How a Positive Mindset Influences Athletic Success

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Mark Jackson Knicks

When it comes to success, your mindset can either pull you down the path of mediocrity or push you toward your goals. In the world of sports, your mind and willpower can make or break you.

I cannot think of a better example than former NBA basketball player, Mark Jackson. Drafted in the first round in 1987 by the New York Knicks, Jackson was labeled too slow with poor defensive and shooting skills. But he had a burning desire to prove his critics wrong; and in his first season, he set a Knicks franchise record for most assists by a rookie, was named NBA Rookie of the Year and became his team's heart and soul. The following year he was selected for the NBA All-Star Team.

Unfortunately, Jackson began to coast, riding on his past successes; he stopped working to prove something and became an out-of-shape bench rider. The man who used his mind to get to the top fell to the bottom. But the best part of the story is that after several trades, Jackson rededicated himself to basketball and took the Indiana Pacers to the top. Anyone who followed NBA basketball in those years will recall the epic battles between the Pacers and the Knicks. When his career ended, Jackson was ranked second all-time in assists. After working as a commentator for ESPN and ABC, he was hired last year as head coach of  the Golden State Warriors.

In my opinion, Jackson is the epitome of how your frame of mind shapes your path to success. It's not easy to stay positive when outside factors are constantly dragging you down. But if you arm yourself with strong willpower and a positive state of mind, you'll be able to stop focusing on what you don't want to happen and overcome the obstacles in your way.

High self-esteem is one of the most powerful tools in your mental toolbox. It doesn't mean you think you're better than others in an arrogant way—there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Having good self-esteem simply means you reach for your full potential every day, and you believe you deserve success (and have worked to achieve it). Staying grateful for what you have—athletic ability, sports skills, material possessions, family and friends—you never let your ego get the best of you. When you are grateful, your mind is in a different place; you know what you have and don't need anyone's approval.

My hope is that you understand how powerful the mind is and what an important role it plays in becoming successful. Coaching legend Rick Pitino wrote a book years ago entitled Success Is A Choice. If successful people like Pitino are telling you that success is a choice, wouldn't it be a good idea to choose success? It's up to you how far you go in life, so what will you choose?


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