Owning your opponent
If you missed Pt. 1, Read it HERE!
Stars have a knack for making great plays/decisions in seemingly impossible situations. Highlight real performances often lead fans and critics to chalk success up to “natural talent” or “God-given ability”. Although there might be a case to be made that some of the best are genetically inclined, and have a leg up on the competition, but there are often underlying themes behind each of these performances.
First, is doing the little things right. My football team used to have a motto, “Control the things you can control.” Successful people understand this and they pay attention to the details that others overlook. They keep their mind in the moment, and do not look past any opponent or situation. They do not waste time with things that are going to keep them from reaching their goals. This often means making sacrifices. However, to a star, their love and respect for their dreams puts that sacrifice into perspective so that it is no longer a sacrifice, but a necessary step along the right path. Preparation also ties in here nicely. The most successful people are masters of preparation.
Second, successful people are respectful. Stars respect themselves, they respect others around them, and they respect their competition. Now I don’t mean you have to like everyone and be nice all the time. In fact, some of the most successful people are at times blatantly ruthless. They act this way because they have the courage to protect themselves and their dreams. Stars do whatever it takes to achieve success. If you want to be a leader you’re going to be expected to deal with tough situations, and you better have the stomach to stand up for your teammates, your company, or your family and friends when the circumstance arises.
Finally, in part 1, we talked about confidence. Stars portray confidence on the field; a true star can ease the tension of his/her teammates, and at the same time, stir up the nerves of players on the opposing team. This is achieved through a confident aura a star attains by doing all of the other steps mentioned. Confidence is earned through preparation, hard work, respect, patients, and most of all knowing yourself and defining your dreams. The neat thing I’ve found about confidence is that it is a chronic condition. Once you have it in one area of your life it seems you can surround yourself with it whenever you need to, even if you’re trying something for the first time!
To end this post, I had the opportunity to catch up with 2010 NFL draft pick Eric Decker. This up and coming WR certainly knows what it takes to play at an elite level. I asked him some questions pertaining to his star qualities, and here is what he had to say,
31 Fitness: I’ve heard you are a great student of the game. What drives you to go the extra mile, and put in the time to focus on the little elements that others might ignore?
ED: What drives me to go the extra mile comes from the values instilled in me as a child and the fear of being underprepared. My parents taught me from a young age that if I am going to do something, I might as well put forth my best effort so there is no room for 'what if'. The fear of being underprepared started to make more sense in college. Sports became more than just playing the game, it involved studying your opponent and executing the play calls throughout the week of practice. At a highly competitive level, if you did not feel comfortable going into a game, you already were beat. That's why I made sure I did everything possible to feel confident and completely prepared for each week's game.
31 Fitness: Who is your football mentor and how important is that person to getting to where you are now?
ED: I've had a few different mentors throughout the different steps in my football career. Coach Kurt Langer was my offensive coordinator in high school and played a major role in my development as a football player but more importantly a man. He demonstrated important values and 'professional' mannerisms in all circumstances. When I reached college, Matt Spaeth currently a tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, became my mentor because of the work ethic and values he had. He became an All-American on the field, but off the field he was a humble, down-to-earth guy who was successful in the classroom and in his community. Over the past few months I have grown a great relationship with Brandon Stokley, who is a 12-year vet and current Seattle Seahawk. Making a transition from college to the NFL is a major step in life and Stokley was willing to help me with my own. He became a big brother to me, sharing advice on football and life, showing me how to be a pro, and spending time off the field.
31 Fitness: Off the field, you’re always keeping the mood light and having fun. Do you have any secret pregame rituals that put you in the right state of mind for game day? Is there any difference between your mentality on game day and any other day at practice?
ED: My pre-game rituals is staying loose and enjoying the moment! The work is put in during the week and that gives me the confidence every weekend to know I am prepared. I will admit, when I run onto the field before opening kickoff, the adrenaline hits me and I get more 'juice' and emotional. Throughout the week, I use practice to improve my craft and get better at the mistakes in the previous game or little things I need to constantly improve on. Where in games my mind is clear and I just react to the situation at hand. Though, I would say the biggest between games and practice is the level of physicality so preparing yourself mentally is something that separates games from practices.
31 Fitness: Thinking about the “Wood chop” celebration against Wisconsin this past year, you seem to play with a lot of fire and passion. How do you think your attitude and intensity on the field affect the d-backs who line up across from you?
ED: The game of football is a very emotional and passionate sport. To be successful in football and, really, anything, you need to have the right attitude and bring a level of intensity to constantly perform at a high level. Bringing both week in and week out plants a perspective in opponents minds that affect them two ways: they have to rise to the occasion or play fearful throughout. This goes along with the motto I learned in high school, "attitude and effort beats talent over a complete season." That's the mindset I try to bring every week to my game!
I’d like to say thanks to Eric Decker for taking the time to share his insight and experience with us. He truly represents what it means to be a star. His accomplishments on and off the field speak for themselves, and I’m always grateful for opportunities to spend time with people of his character. Thanks Eric and best of luck!