Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Can You Learn From Tebow?


One of the hottest topics in the news, in social media and in conversation these days is Tim Tebow.  Tebow is a winning quarterback at every level of the game, despite the lack of tangible things such as a strong arm or perfect technique.  What makes him a winner?  Why is he so compelling to us?  What can we learn from him?

#1 – FAITH
His unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ has taught him to have faith in himself and those around him.

#2 – PRIORITIES
Football isn’t the most important thing in Tebow’s life.  He is building a children's hospital in the Philippines for the poor.  Here is what he says,  “Helping raise money for kids – there’s nothing better than that.”  This is one example of where his focus is when he isn’t on the field.
#3 – THICK SKIN
Tebow doesn’t care what others think of him.  He lives his life as he believes he should live it.  He does all he can with what he has and he knows that deep inside, so he needn’t listen to critics tell him what he can’t do.  He knows that he did all he could.  There is peace in that knowledge. 
#4 – FOCUS
Tebow’s game gets better as the game goes because his focus gets better.  At the end of the game, the goals are crystal clear and he knows what he is supposed to do.  Pressure flusters some and clarifies things for others.  Tebow is in the second category.  
#5 - FIGHT
Tebow doesn't give up.  His teammate Champ Bailey, a pro bowler, said this about Tebow, “One thing about that quarterback: he is going to keep grinding. As a defense, we just have to keep him in this game – keep this team in the game and in the fourth quarter you never know what you are going to get. We are never out of it, and it is a good feeling because I know if we are close we have a chance.”

#1 FAITH - Definition:  confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. 

If you want to be a great player on the golf course, you must learn to have faith in yourself.  The most important part of the definition isn't the reference to confidence or trust, but the part that says, "not based on proof".  Tebow is known for his fourth quarter heroics.  Read this account from the Denver Post:  Tebow's passes may not look like much, but when it comes to his fourth-quarter numbers, he shines. With a 107.8 fourth-quarter quarterback rating, Tebow is fourth behind Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Tebow has thrown eight touchdowns and only one interception in the fourth quarter or overtime.  Tebow is in the game until the end of the game.  He doesn't base his confidence on what he has done, but what he is capable of doing.  He has faith in his abilities and in his teammate's abilities.  

How many times have you gained confidence not because of your preparation, but because of one great shot?  How many times have you hit a few bad shots and lost your confidence, despite hours, weeks and years of practice?  If you have faith in yourself, it shouldn't matter what has happened in the minutes, hours or even days leading up to now. If you have done all you can to prepare to play and worked to master your game, you must take the next big step and have faith in yourself.  This is as important for a seasoned tour player as it is for a young high school golfer.   

Your faith in a higher power can teach you what it is to have faith in something unseen.  This is a tricky topic to discuss as a coach, because belief systems are very personal and individual.  I have always been careful to leave each to their beliefs and support all through the years.  The focus of a coach needn’t be on a player’s faith, but instead on character and focus.  The question for me isn't what do you believe in?  Instead, it is do you believe in something?  If faith is a learned skill, can your belief system help you to become a successful athlete?



#2 PRIORITIES - A priority is something given special attention.  

Think about your priorities for a moment.  If you are a new mother, your priority will be your newborn.  If you just married, your priority will probably be spending time with your spouse.  We all have different things to which we give special attention. If you are a competitive athlete, you probably spend a lot of attention, time, sweat and value on your sport.  That is also common and natural.  What if that sport is your only priority?  What if you work 100% of the time on becoming better at your sport, but very little time becoming a better person?  What if you work to please your coach, but not necessarily to please yourself?  What if your parents allow you to shirk many of your responsibilities to give your attention completely to your sport?  If any of these things are occurring in your life, you are losing your balance as a person and your perspective of what is important.



As a coach, I want my players to bring a passionate love of the game of golf with them to SMU.  I want them to do all they can to be successful, including eating right, becoming fit and getting enough sleep.  However, I also want them to have friends, spend time as a normal college kid would and focus on school or family whenever it is needed and as much as is needed.  Tebow does good work in the world because of his belief system.  This work is a priority to him and it allows him to see his football in the proper light and gives him a healthy perspective.  Balance is tricky in today’s world.  If you are a successful athlete, you will escape criticism for having other interests.  However, when you fail, they will be called distractions.  Tebow clearly prioritizes his interests in the press and doesn’t worry about fall out, because he chose his priorities and didn’t allow others to do that for him. 

#3 - THICK SKIN - is the ability to withstand criticism.

Tebow’s critics are crying from the mountaintops about what he can’t do.  Tebow is focused instead on what he can do.  I am sure he is clear on what he needs to improve upon to be a better quarterback.  Tebow believes in preparation and hard work.  These are the reasons that Tebow has thick skin.  He can see himself and his faults clearly.  He knows he isn’t perfect.  Instead, he strives to do all he can and be the best he can when he steps on the field.  He does the same off of the field.  With the knowledge that he strives to do and be his best, why should he listen to critics?  Why listen to people who aren’t important to you tell you what you can’t do?  I would bet that Tebow also ignores the people who think he is wonderful and can do no wrong.  He has a higher power that he strives to please and that is the opinion he works to appease.



How does this relate to you as a golfer?  Your goal should be to figure out who you are as a person and take that knowledge to the golf course.  How you prepare, how you compete, how you act and how you play should all be based on who you are as a person, what is important to you and what you want to achieve.  If your goal in life is to be happy and make others happy, figure out how to do that within your golf game.  A coach who tells you to put on a game face and play without talking will obviously be asking you to do the opposite of what you want.  How can you withstand criticism if you don't understand what is right and wrong for you?  Your thick skin will grow based on knowing yourself and what is important to you.

#4 – FOCUS - is quite simply the ability to concentrate.

Distraction is an enemy of focus.  So many of us today have a problem with focus. We have a phone that allows us to talk to ten people at once and none of them are in the room.  While we are doing that, we can also follow 500 friends on facebook and find out what they are doing and with whom.  You might think that it takes great focus to multi-task and pull this off, but I would argue that it takes a complete lack of focus.  Am I present with the person in front of me?  Can I listen fully to her?  Can I make eye contact with her through an entire conversation?  Can I be thoughtful in my responses to her?  To answer these questions, I will have to let go of the dings, beeps, rings and other notifications that get in the way of attention.  The question is, can we be trained to turn away from distraction and learn focus?  Just as I said that Tebow’s deep faith in God teaches him to have deep faith in life, deep focus in one area teaches you to have deep focus in other areas.  This is definitely a teachable skill and one that we need to address if we want to develop great young players.  Tebow probably spends quiet time in his day in prayer and contemplation.  That time of silence and deep thought is a transferable skill and is valuable to both his relationship to God and his ability to control where his mind goes and when. So many of us diagnose ourselves with ADD and I would guess that most of us suffer from it in some way.  The question is, do we give in to the diagnosis or do we learn to offset this problem?  Learn to be quiet, thoughtful, contemplative or prayerful.  It will be a big step toward your focus on the golf course. Start tonight!  Turn off your phone, your t.v., your computer, and your ipod  How long can you sit in a quiet room?  Can you direct your thoughts to a certain subject?  Can you focus?

To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.” ~Bertrand Russell

#5 - FIGHT - Perhaps the most important skill you can take to the golf course.  Truly great players stay in the round on each and every shot, no matter where they stand in the round or in the field.

As a golfer, you have to know that you will have ups and downs in a round of golf.  You will do dumb things, make bad swings and have bad results.  Everyone does!  How you fight through the consequences of these is what makes you a fighter.  Tebow doesn't worry much about the "how" during the game.  He might throw some bad passes or fumble the ball, but the next time on the field, he fights to do great things.  Unlike Tebow, you have the ability to fight for greatness right away!  You don't have to wait until the defense gets the ball back for you, you get to hit another shot right now!  If you can view your challenges as opportunities to fight back, you will see the golf course as Tebow sees the football field.  


  
Tebow is a great athlete.  Do great athletes think differently than you and I?  Yes and no.  One thing that they understand is that it takes consistent, daily effort to be great.  They can’t give in to laziness, self indulgence, or distraction.  Unlike fans, they don’t think of one loss as the end of a season or a clear sign of failure.  Instead, they use it to figure out their next steps and focus on improvement.  We talk a lot about the “dream” of success, but I think that type of thinking is only the first step.    Greatness might start out as a dream, but to be great, you have to come crashing down to earth and work hard. 

Most of us have this approach in our daily lives.   We strive to be good parents, good siblings, good sons and daughters.  We go to work and do our best.  We go through illness and injury with grim determination and work hard to get better.  We don’t look at our lives through the scope of wins and losses, failures and successes.  Instead, we give a consistent daily effort to be at our best and be a good person.  That is exactly what great athletes are doing.  That is character.  Tebow isn't unique.  He is, however, someone from whom we can all learn lessons of success.

“You will have to adopt a particular lifestyle of ambition, not just for a few weeks or months but for years and years and years. You have to want it so bad that you are not only ready to fail, but you actually want to experience failure: revel in it, learn from it.”  David Shenk



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