Character & Mental Toughness – Commitment

COMMITMENT – A commitment is a pledge or agreement to do something. That commitment can be with other people or even yourself. Commitment is a train on a track chugging along toward a worthy destination.I am a lousy golfer. The reason for this is quite simple. I have little natural ability and I am not willing to practice at the golf range or play enough rounds to get good. I lack commitment. There once was a time when I was an ok golfer. But it took a ton of time and effort on my part.One of my friends has about the same amount of natural ability that I have in golf. But he’s a good player. He bought a membership at a local course and plays a few rounds a week in the spring, summer, and fall. He plays when it’s rainy. He plays when it’s cold. He plays when it’s hot and humid. He plays when nobody else will go out. He talks with good golfers and asks them how they got good. He reads golf books and religiously watches golf tournaments on TV. Well, my friend has become quite a golfer. He is now much better than I.  The reason is simple. He is committed.

Did my friend go fishing to become a better golfer?

No. He committed to becoming a better golfer so he rarely went fishing. He had to

sacrifice some of his other leisure activities.

Did my friend buy really expensive clubs to become a better golfer?

No. He knew that new clubs would make him look like a good golfer, but only by putting

his time in to practicing was he going to play like a good golfer.

Did my friend quit his teaching job to become a better golfer?

No. He needed to support his family. He even got a promotion. He just managed his time well.

He kept things in perspective and never let his commitment become ridiculous or damaging.

Did my friend take steroids to become a better golfer?

No. Even though he is not very big or strong, He knew that only true satisfaction comes

from working hard toward a worthy goal.

Did my friend say he was going to be the next Tiger Woods?

No. Anybody can talk about winning. Not everyone can make a commitment.

My friend focused on becoming the best player he could be. That was his goal.

“Turns out I’m pretty dang lucky For all that good advice Those hard to find words of wisdom Holed up here in my mind And just when I’ve lost my way Or I got too many choices I hear voices I hear voices like My dad sayin’ quit the team And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life” -Chris Young, Voices Lyric

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” -Samuel Johnson

Commitment is the difference between a wish and a goal. Do you wish to be all-western mass or do you work hard to make sure it happens? Do you wish to have a nice home for your family or do you make sure it happens? The difference is in the commitment.

Commitment doesn’t take breaks or holidays. It doesn’t sleep in class. It doesn’t leave its notebook in its locker or forget it’s pads before practice. It doesn’t watch TV and eat Pringles three at time during lifting hours. It doesn’t make excuses.

What you commit to now will show up later. Committed to eating junk food and watching TV? I bet you know how that turns out. Committed to just getting by in school? I bet you know how that turns out.

Don’t expect to become a great golfer if you spend all your time fishing.

Character is commitment.

“Not every kid made the team when they tried We got disappointed and that was all right, we turned out all right” Bucky Covington, A Different World, Lyric

The Process & Levels of Commitment

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, when?” -Hillel

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”-Helen Keller

Commitment Process Step 1 -Play or Quit

Very simply a person must decide whether or not they want to play. Playing has its costs and rewards. The player must sacrifice some of their free time activities and their comfort. There is great fear in making this initial decision. They may not know specifics but they know they will be called upon to work hard and endure pain. Even more terrifying is the idea of having to be counted on. Most people will not play football. Many others will try but do not last very long.

“{Donkeys} would rather have straw than gold.”-Heraclitus

“He who learns must suffer”.- Aeschylus

“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.” ~Arthur Christopher Benson

”It is your attitude at the beginning of a difficult undertaking which, more than anything else, will determine its successful outcome.”-William James

“You must start with a positive attitude or you will surely end without one.” ~Carrie Latet

Commitment Process Step 2 -Semi Commit

After the player decides to play, they semi-commit. They find that being on the team is rewarding, but they are trying to figure out how to get the reward with a minimal amount of sacrifice.

This player practices reasonably hard when it is 60-75 degrees but hesitates when it becomes hotter or colder or wetter out. This person lifts weights when it is convenient for them, or when they can find nothing better to do. This person avoids the more strenuous lifts, or only does some of the lifts the coach asks the team to do. This player looks for opportunities to miss the occasional practice, misses reps in practice, runs sprints but not to their fullest potential. This player will sit out with the slightest hurt. This player usually is in the back of the line during drills.

They try to match themselves up against similar or even weaker competition during practices. This player will occasionally look like they have achieved the next step, but eventually it is revealed to be a fleeting flash of potential. They really spend most of their time trying to get by and little time trying to get better. Eventually they will get called upon to do the growing up required to take the next step.

“Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do. Human nature is above all things lazy.”-Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Nobody likes the man who brings bad news”-Sophocles in Antigone

Note of Caution:

The next step is the step that parents often have the most difficulty with their son taking. The reason for this is because their son’s character flaws must first be highlighted in such a way that he can no longer deny them and must make a decision to either fix his flaws or live with the consequences. For example, if he does not hustle he will not play, if he forgets his equipment he will not play, if he goes offsides or forgets his plays he will be letting the team down and we will lose.

While we try our best to offer positive lessons, sometimes the negative aspect of events and their corresponding consequences must also be taught. These are no less a part of truth than the positive, and can be a vital part of development.

Like an animal still sporting it’s winter coat as summer approaches, the time for change has come and it is often confusing and difficult for everyone involved. The player has gone as far as he can with his current mindset and must begin to grow in areas he may formerly been unaware of. The Easy Way no longer takes him where he wishes to go. Rather than maturing and taking the Character Way, he complains about his failure resulting from things being too hard, or unfair.

The parental instinct to shield the child from difficulty often prevents the child from taking the next step which is often very hard to take. The child may become quiet or sullen as he contemplates his next step or he may come home seeking sympathy by claiming that the coach was “mean to him”.

The child often over dramatizes the words or context of what a coach or teammate said and fails to report the many supportive comments that the coaches or teammates have made. Ironically, educators often are on the reciprocal side of this, where a parent has recognized an area that needs growth and the child seeks out sympathy from the coach or teacher.

The parent likely feels the need to console the child who comes home feeling sorry for himself for having his flaw revealed. Sometimes the parent reacts by lashing out at the person who has recognized the child’s character flaw and called for improvement.

This is understandable, no parent wants their child to be unhappy. But the goal is for the player to become a fine young man. If the parent does not permit the child to change, to IMPROVE, then the child will remain a child. Growing is by definition changing, and recognizing and making that change is difficult. The character flaw of a poor work ethic, lack of courage, irresponsibility, lack of accountability, lack of respect for other people or property etc. will never change if the player is not permitted to learn any lesson that is uncomfortable or difficult.

Worse, the child will be denied the opportunity to grow truly confident, the type of confidence that comes only from having the courage to face their flaws and fears and then overcoming them.

So please be aware that growing up is difficult and that becoming something special…..a man of character and mental toughness who can be counted on in any situation is even more difficult. However, in the end, that young man will take pride in himself and you will be proud of what a fine person he has become.

” Fall seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

“Sometimes we put up walls, not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to knock them down.”-Anonymous

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” – Chinese Proverb

“Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never.” – Winston Churchill

“Criticism doesn’t hurt us. It makes us tougher, more resilient. It’s the praise you gotta be careful with. As soon as you start swallowing it, it’ll kill ya.”-Ohio State linebackers coach Luke Fickell

“Thorough preparation does wonders for anyone’s confidence. Hard work that results in success equals confidence. That’s the only formula I have, I know of no other way”- Dean Smith, legendary UNC coach

“A ship in port is always safe, but that’s not what ships were made for”-US Navy saying

“1 step back to take two steps forward”-proverb

“All truth goes through three phases. First it is ridiculed. Second it is vehemently opposed. Third it accepted as being self-evident” -Arthur Schopenhauer

“ If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.” John Heywood

Commitment Process Step 3- Commit to Self

Something happens. Usually something unpleasant. The player is now honest with themselves. The player suddenly realizes that they are capable of giving much more than they have. They recognize that being a Semi Commit will not bring them what they desire. This is because being a Semi Commit is taking the Easy Way, which ultimately ends in failure.

The player comes to understand that the harder they work, the better they will be and the more fun they will have. The joy of competition increases exponentially with the investment of one’s’ self.

They begin to seek out responsibility instead of running from it. The player truly accepts that they have flaws in some character areas and makes an extremely powerful decision to seek out and correct these flaws in order to reach their potential.

The player gets a piercing-fierce look in their eye and begins doing not just the work, but the hard work, the type of work that average people can’t fathom. The player realizes that this type of effort is not as bad as he feared. The player not only puts in the time, but begins putting great effort into the time he puts in.

They are doing more than they ever imagined.

They are now serious and their confidence begins to soar from the empowerment they feel from courageously facing their faults and fears and recognizing that they have the determination within them to persevere and grow into what they dreamed they could be.

The players family is astounded by the growth and maturity this budding young man exhibits, and usually can’t seem to identify the catalyst though they readily testify to the result.

“Eureka!”-Greek for “I have found it!”

“It’s, not, how you start, it’s how you finish, And it’s, not, where you’re from, it’s where you’re at Everybody gets knocked down, Everybody gets knocked down, How quick are you gonna’ get up? How quick are you gonna’ get up?” -The Hours, Ali in the Jungle

Commitment Process Step 4 -Commit to others

This player keeps themselves on the Character Way. They have displayed consistent Character and Mental Toughness. They now begin to utilize their Awareness and take initiative. They have an Awareness of what the teams needs to do in order to be successful and they accept responsibility for seeing that it gets done. They are willing to give everything they have towards the cause and are motivated by the fact that others will see this and be inspired to make a similar sacrifice for the good of the team. They begin to take pride in the achievements of others they have guided along the Character Way.

“He who lives by great virtue may be compared to the north star, which keeps its place as all other stars turn towards it.”-Confucius

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.” ~Hubert Humphrey

We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them. ~Elbert Hubbard

There are two types of people – those who come into a room and say, “Well, here I am!” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.” ~Frederick L. Collins

”Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and actions.” Harold Green

Commitment Process Step 5 -Commit in any situation

The ultimate goal is that the player applies the lessons taught in football to academics, other athletics, social situations, employment, family etc. The player recognizes that they can only be one person if they wish to be successful.

They understand that they cannot take the Easy Way in one situation and then the Character Way in the next situation. They begin to adopt the Character Way as a way of life.

Their decisions are quicker because they have a sound core from which to refer to and the actions they take are more profound. They gain momentum, constantly growing and learning. While nobody can ever achieve perfection, they are coming closer and closer to fulfilling their potential in all facets of their life.

They begin to see that love means being there. Love is being there for their family no matter the situation (rich, poor, healthy, sick, etc). Love is being there for their teammates no matter the situation (hot, cold, winning, losing, playing, cheering from the bench etc.). They are becoming someone special….a man of character and mental toughness who can be counted on in any situation.

” Seek out that one particular mental attitude which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive”-William James .

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”-Lao Tzu

“Know Who You Are, Wear One Hat

Wearing one hat is the epitome of personal leadership. It is the starting point-and the end point- of the lifelong process of discovering who you are and what you stand for.

When you wear one hat:

You know what makes you feel most deeply alive

You feel good about yourself

You have no need for secrets or pretending or posturing

You can lead yourself and others from a place of clarity and integrity

When you wear one hat, you prioritize who you are and refuse to be anything less. You value yourself and the

work you do.

When you know who you are everything becomes easier…

even the hard stuff.”

-Howard Behar, CEO of Starbucks









About coachbillmoore

Educator/Author/Speaker/HS & NCAA Coach Character Coach Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. "The measure of your character and mental toughness is the space between what you are doing and what you could be doing." -Coach Bill Moore
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