Great Champions are Made not Born
Wow what a fabulous weekend of sport we had last week! Lewis Hamilton secured his record 7th world championship title at the Turkish Grand Prix, to equal the 16 year record of his hero Michael Schumacher. It was a dramatic drive in horrific wet conditions, that showcased Lewis's driving skills and composure, to not only stay on track, but to also record fastest laps. Many drivers found the treacherous surface too much too handle and found themselves slipping off the track like bars of soap, failing to find any grip. It was only when the race was finished and the cars were sat in parc ferme that we could truly appreciate the skills he had demonstrated that day. The tyre's grooves had worn down to the slicks, making you realise that this had been a drive of all drives. If that wasn't enough excitement we then got to see the first ever Masters held in the autumn. I don't know about you, but I thought the Masters was quite possibly one of the best ever shown. I agree the atmosphere was lacking at times not having the crowds cheering and amen corner didn't quite look the same without the azaleas, but that did not stop us being treated to some amazing golf. This year with more cameras positioned around the course we were treated views, never seen before, giving us a greater appreciation for the contours the players have to negotiate, along with the extreme elevations and crater like bunkers on the fairways. I was truly hooked with the number of players vying for position in the first 3 days, making it difficult to say who would win the green jacket. But Dustin Johnson was just simply sublime on the last day, winning in true style and setting a new record win of 20 under par. So this got me thinking what makes a champion? Are they born or made and what are the similarities, if any, between Lewis Hamilton and Dustin Johnson, that makes them world number 1 in their chosen sport? Here are my initial thoughts, I'd love to hear your views too
Strong Self-Belief - both have worked hard to achieve their successes and at times had to face challenges and make difficult choices. Throughout all their hardships and failings, the one thing that stood strong, was their self-belief that they would succeed. Some call it grit, others call it tenacity. Whatever the label, its about never giving up, or being put off by what others say, staying fully committed and trusting in one's own abilities and skills.
A well developed strategy - creating a winning strategy and having the guts to stick to it has proven to work for both men. Lewis fully understands how to get the best out of his car and himself. He works closely with his team to develop their knowledge, but is also happy to stand up and make critical decisions when required to do so. He doesn't follow the crowd, instead he utilises his knowledge and experience to devise winning strategies and the results are shown by the number of wins he has to date. Dustin has learnt to develop a strategy and routine which he meticulously sticks to. This was evident in the Masters where every putt was taken through the same rigorous routine with his caddie. Sticking to the routine helped to keep him focused in the moment, which helped with emotions on the back 9 on the final day. As part of his strategy he has also worked hard on his course management, something Bryson DeChambeau could take a lesson in learning. Dustin played a strategic game, knowing when to attack shots and when to play safe. Choosing to lay up a shot with mud on the ball, or bale out to the safe side of a green rather than taking an unnecessary risky shots.
Learning from the Failures - Both Lewis and Dustin have experienced failures many times, but appreciate that failing is part of the process. Taking mistakes as feedback, they develop a training regime to strengthen what has been identified. Dustin for example has been working hard on his mental game after failing previously to win majors on the final day due to nerves. He's also being worked with his coach to improve his putting. I'm sure many of you noticed him holding his right arm as part of his set up to take a putt. This technique has been developed to lock his right arm tight into his body to prevent pulling putts to the left.
Highly competitive streak - Dustin and Lewis had razor-edged competitive streaks from an early age, Lewis at the age of 10, after winning a karting race, told the head of McLaren that he would drive for them one day, which took some guts at such a young age. Both men constantly strive to improve themselves, pushing boundaries and getting out of their comfort zones to stand out from the pack. Maintaining motivation and commitment can be challenging at times, especially when your world number 1. To keep the energy and momentum going the secret is in finding new goals and challenges as part of the mental toughness journey.
Dream big - As boys both Lewis and Dustin had dreams of being successful one day. Dustin Johnson used to dream of competing in the Masters when he'd go to watch as a kid with his dad. Lewis on winning at the weekend, dedicated his win to young people, telling them to Dream the Impossible Dream, he went to say 'I was thinking about my whole career, when I was five and I drove my first kart to winning my first British championship, and driving home singing We Are The Champions, and then dreaming of being here, and there it is, right there, just minutes away, and that was a lot to take in'.
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