In my last column I wrote about the importance of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects to the success of an individual or a football team. I think it is very, very critical for individuals, as well as teams, to set high goals that give direction and keep them on track.
It is normal to have setbacks, but when you have one and don’t have a goal bad things can creep into the equation if you start doubting yourself.
A good example here in Auburn of a group of athletes who have set goals and kept their focus through the ups and the downs of their 2016 season is the softball team coached by Clint Myers. Because of that they are two wins away from returning to the College World Series where their really big goal is waiting for them to try to achieve.
From day one when he got to Auburn, Coach Myers talked about going to the College World Series and winning it, and that has become his team’s expectation rather than just going out there wandering around thinking they want to become the best they can be. Those girls have somewhere they want to go and that is to Oklahoma City to win a championship.
As a person lives his or her life you can have a lot of little goals of what you want to achieve today, this week, this month or this season, and that is fine, but I think it is critical to have the big goal and hold yourself accountable to it by doing things necessary to reach it.
Preparation and a good plan are critical to crossing the finish line whether your keep it in your head or write it down. In the course of trying to get to where you want to be there will likely be changes and tweaks that need to made in the plan to enhance your chance to accomplishing what you want to do.
Developing the type of self discipline needed to being successful is part of the process of making it happen. I know that was vitally important to me when I was younger.
One of the greatest things that ever happened to me was serving 2 1/2 years in the service and having to develop the discipline necessary to become an officer. A lot of the details of what I did at that time in my life may be insignificant, but developing the habits that helped me are anything but that.
How you pursue your big goal helps determine what type of person you are going to be. Are you going to be satisfied with being middle of the road at what you do? Are you going to be a person who just goes with the flow? If that person does just go with the flow, he or she is always going to be average and probably come up short when it is time to come up big. It takes discipline to do that.
I have always said that I wish every man and woman in this country could serve six months of their life in the military, any branch you want, to develop the type of discipline that will help throughout their life. When you are in the military you have to be accounted for all of the time. One of the worst things that you can do is be AWOL, which is absent without leave, because if you are in combat you have to count on that person who is supposed to be next to you. There is a lot to be said about being where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to do whether you are an athlete, a coach, a doctor or whatever.
It takes discipline to be willing to do things that maybe you don’t really want to do, but are necessary to reach your goal, and by being willing to do those things over and over again you build the type of discipline necessary to help you reach the big goal.
For example, a quarterback may have all the physical tools necessary to be a successful college player, but may not be as good as he needs to be with the mental part of the game. If it takes him too long to read routes he needs to do whatever work it takes to master that. If he is a bit slow as a runner the same thing applies to doing extra training for speed and agility. Sometimes you have to concentrate more on one phase of your development than others and the guys who reach their goals have the discipline to do what is necessary to make it happen so you don’t finish second, in the middle of the pack or even at the back of it.
Being the best I could be was a big deal to me going back to when I was a youngster growing up in a hard-working, disciplined family with two older brothers where I never won much of anything, but it didn’t keep me from trying. I think competing against somebody who was better than me, bigger than me, stronger than me plus older and wiser probably gave me some advantage because I was never satisfied with finishing second even when I never finished first. I didn’t like it and tried to do something about that, which carried over to my daily life playing football and when I was older coaching it.
I know I had a physical toughness because of the way I was brought up and football was always easy for me. Some people had to work a little bit harder at it than me and I had to work harder at things that were easier for someone else. For example, I never considered myself the brightest student in school even though I tried to make the best grades in the classroom I didn’t do it, but making the effort to do that helped me get to where I needed to be.
I think most of the people who have experienced the exultation of reaching their big goal will tell you that it was worth the time and effort. If it is achievable, and if you truly put your whole heart into making it happen, if you come up short you are going to work even harder to achieve it.
I have studied a lot of successful teams and a lot of successful people, and I truly believe in the value of working hard to achieve the big goal. In my life I will be the first one to tell you that I haven’t always been right about the things I have done or said, but I have been right more than I have been wrong and I am certain about the importance of setting goals.