“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all” Dale Carnegie

When athletes get bad press it makes for good news. By the time an athlete’s problems get the attention of the press, damage has already been done. The athlete, and the team, becomes positioned to take a defensive stance. This is similar to looking at the tip of the iceberg. You are only seeing 10% of the problem not realizing the other 90% is under the surface.

Ryan Mallett, who was just drafted to play with the Patriots, Ryan Leaf, San Diego Chargers, and Darnell Dodson, University of Southern Mississippi, put their sports career at risk. Sabotage. Each one of these men have a chance to turn things around. An opportunity was hand delivered based upon their raw athletic talent. Unfortunately staying the course becomes treacherous when full commitment to the vision is lacking.

A discrepancy surfaced when the demands of college and professional sports clashed with their perceived reality. Each of these men, as well as many athletes in similar situations before them, had a missing link. As a result they were able to grab the brass ring, but not able to hold onto it. The opportunity slipped through their fingers. With the correct fortitude, however, they are able to move forward, learn from the past and turn things around. Although the brass ring slipped through their fingers once it does not mean all is lost.

Will Mallett and Dodson fall short of their dreams, following the path of Leaf? Cognitive dissonance contributed to each of these athletes’ challenges. Their reality clashed with team expectations causing tension. Eventually the tension had to be relieved somehow. When players are under a lot of pressure they revert back to old behaviors, both on and off the field.

1. Incongruency between their goals and personal beliefs or values. When beliefs or values contradict a goal it leads to sabotage. Sometimes those things are under the surface, hidden from the individual leading to a vicious cycle of repeated gains and then losses.
2. Control issues get in the way. Most likely they did not believe they needed to change anything. The assistance and resources were available to them. Their ego, however, prevented them to take advantage of the support. Performance success and personal growth are intertwined. They go hand in hand.
3. Unwilling to take personal responsibility. The stance they adopted growing up did not apply to their current reality. At some point it becomes necessary to stop pointing fingers and throwing blame around. Although their career had progressed their thinking remained stagnant, justifying their point of view.

Each of these gifted athletes knew where they were and possessed a vision of where they wanted to be. Unfortunately, they were unable to bridge the gap. Other athletes in similar situations were committed to doing whatever it took to bridge the gap because they were so deeply connected to their dreams. Mallett, Leaf and Dodson, however, were only interested.

Rising to professional status demands change. There is no room for drugs, anger issues or theft among elite athletes. These men, however, were unable to adapt to the changing demands as they climbed up the ladder of success.

Trying to play at that level without changing who you are for what you need to become is a dangerous combination. It is like a business growing too fast without the infrastructure in place, eventually it implodes and collapses.

Change occurs when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the perceived pain of initiating changing.

As you stretch your physical capabilities, moving up in rankings, your identity has to adapt as well.

Change is necessary to sustain success. The process of being stretched beyond your comfort zone, and continuing to take steps toward your vision, are necessary components for success. Resisting change is resisting success.

Success is multi-layered. For most people it requires a rude awakening, losing something precious, to become motivated. It is not easy to look in the mirror and see the truth. A deep desire to never experience a similar situation again is the ideal motivator for change. If they reach that point, not everyone does, Mallett, Leaf and Dodson will commit to their vision and not only do what is convenient but what is necessary to succeed. They know how to do it on the court and field. That driving force is transferable. It’s possible once they make the commitment.

Activity: What do you need to change as you move up in rankings? Most athletes wait until they have made the move to the next level to make those changes. Consider what you could begin doing differently now in order to speed up the process. Explore your commitment levels, self care and confidence. Choose one or two action steps you could begin now as if you were already at the next level.

Author's Bio: 

Do you feel you compete because it is expected of you? All the training you do feels like work instead of fun? When you resolve the struggle, your energy becomes focused on the race.

The Inner Game for Winning Athletes System is an easy step-by-step process building focus and confidence to reach your performance goals. Winners act with speed. If you are reading this and it feels true for you, then get in touch with Loren for a FREE Discovery Session at info@innergameforwinningathletes.com