Grandpa Harvey (my mom’s Dad) had a famous exclamation that he used frequently: More bricks! And for those of us who understood what it meant, we always smiled and laughed with joyful memory. Many years ago, my uncle and aunt needed their patio redone and we were using bricks for some of the work. Bricks had to be moved around and put in the proper position in order for the structure to hold. So whenever we needed more bricks moved, my Grandpa would say in a booming funny voice: More bricks! And lo and behold, the bricks would arrive and the redecoration project moved forward and was completed.
When I see brick walls even now, I think of my Grandpa’s words. And I think of the similarity to athletic success by focusing on the fundamentals: the things that really matter, the things that without which we will not achieve success. Athletes and coaches frequently talk about getting back to basics, especially when beginning and sometimes when things go wrong. So what are these ingredients that form this solid brick wall of success?
One fundamental brick to include is proper rest and sleep/relaxation. This might be the brick we talk about the least so I mention it first. There is a big difference between sleeping 2 hours and 7 hours per night. Sometimes life get chaotic for all of us and we have to find ways to rest, sleep and relax, especially when we are under a lot of pressure or stress.
Secondly, we must have good nutrition, optimized for our performance to be at the highest level possible. Forming good habits with nutrition requires practice. And perfect practice makes perfect. When we are stressed, we tend to reach for unhealthy comfort food that may not nourish us in the ways that we need. Or processed food, not good for the body with too many artificial ingredients.
Third, we must have a plan optimized to help us reach our goals. We decide what the primary target or objective is and reverse engineer how to get there. We take incremental steps daily, weekly, and monthly to achieve those goals. Then modify steps as needed to reach new heights.
Fourth, we have to have the right mindset. A winning champion’s mindset. A mindset that we will not be deterred or stopped. We may not win every contest but we have to believe that we can. We have to persevere when things go wrong and associate with positive, generous people who will help us while we help them.
Fifth, we have to have courage. Courage to win. Courage to change. Courage to sweep away the waves of discouragement that will surely wash over us from time to time. When that happens, we have to rise above those waves and surf.
Sixth, we must focus on the positive. Negativity, doubt and fear form an ugly powerful trio when we let them. Even on a daily basis, our brains work against us with negative thoughts, doubts, and fears, many of which will never happen. When we confront this negativity with a lens of whether these thoughts, doubts and fears are rational, most of the time we find that they are not. If these are false beliefs, we need to adjust our perspective lens and shift to what is true and what is positive. A crucial element in keeping this positivity brick intact is associating with inspiring, positive people. It makes a tremendous difference to have a strong support network helping you as opposed to feeling like we are handling everything by ourselves like Don Quixote.
Seventh, we must envision success. This may be one of the most critical pieces of the success puzzle. If we fail to envision success daily, it starts to slip through our fingers and become less real. Even if we are imagining our way there, in many cases the imaginary moments fulfill themselves in unexpected ways sometimes much faster that we think they will. We must believe we can succeed at a deep level and never let our faith be shaken that we can truly accomplish our goals.
Eighth, for many of us, it is extremely helpful to have a coach and/or training group to help you. Coaches provide customized training, answer questions, troubleshoot, and helpful education to help anyone achieve their workout goals. And a group provides the camaraderie and support to keep everyone focused on success. There is strength in numbers. We all become more knowledgeable and more powerful when we share our knowledge and experience to help each other succeed in athletics, in health, and in life.
Ninth, the bricks need to be solidified by a diligent effort to create and maintain healthy habits and keep them for life. They must be cemented together in such a way that if one brick slips or falls, the others can hold us together until the fallen brick can be restored. And any brick can fall. A fallen brick can be a lapse in health, weight gain by letting our nutrition go, or the loss of a job. But staying healthy can help us stay on track and finding and/or creating a new job can help us find new purpose and mission in life to serve others more powerfully than before.
Finally, we must not give up. It’s so easy to quit right before we achieve success. We get injured and we give up. Or an unexpected chaotic event like death of a loved one or job loss occurs. We must realize that transitions happen and there is always support for us with any adverse event we encounter in life. If we need help, we must ask for it. And help will be provided. Life will improve. We will succeed.
Believe and you will achieve!