Have you ever asked yourself what it takes to become a champion? To be the next Zharkov and Olga or the future Yulia and Ricardo? Think about that for a few seconds. About what this undertaking truly means and what this challenging quest entails. What steps should you follow? What does and don’ts should pave the way? What possibilities will arise and what impossible tasks will you meet?
All the answers come down to one very important fact: champions are not born, they are made.
And this is what a C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N is made of:
C – COMMITMENT
“Attitude is the librarian of the past, the speaker of your present and the prophet of your future.” (John Maxwell).
It takes a distinguished and powerful character and a great deal of courage to whole-heartedly commit yourself to the dance life and, even more, to the creation and becoming of a champion. This is what an unwavering commitment is about. When you are determined to do something, there’s no turning back. It becomes your responsibility. And you’ll need to hold yourself accountable to every single action you do or don’t do, every single time, day-in and day-out, throughout your career path. It’s a pact your past self has signed with your future self. And there is much solemnity, loyalty and honor in this oath. Daily, this oath must be to activate your commitment to become the champion of your dreams.
How committed are you?
H – HUNGER
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Hungry is stronger than passionate. It’s an insatiable quest for a life of your choice and a future of your creation. It’s much more than a want, it’s a physical and mental need that comes bursting from within. It’s more than an emotional passion; it’s an emotional, physical and intellectual experience altogether, so much it is akin to pure obsession.
This eagerness for dance, for progress, for greatness, is what will keep you going through the inevitabilities of the ups and downs of life. Without it, the foundation will be fragile and the construct will crumble and fall. With it, however, you’ll find within you enough power to move mountains.
How hungry are you?
A – ACTION
“Personal power is the ability to take action.” (Anthony Robbins)
You can dream of greatness and pretend you live by it for as long as you like, you’ll stay in the illusion of progress. The one and only way to achieve anything, both in dance and in life, is by taking action. Make a plan, follow it and adjust it. Ask for advice and apply it. Search for opportunities then grab them by the horns. Train more and harder. Create new habits and let go of bad ones. Do your planks, work your basics…
Action verbs are full of possibilities; they keep the blood flowing through the body of your dreams. It all boils down to whether or not you are taking action. And this requires presence and focus, or your efforts will fall through. So don’t mistake movement with progress: the former is busy but stagnant, the latter is efficient and result oriented.
How are you taking action?
M – MINDSET
“The greatest story of living lies not in never falling. But in rising every time we fall.” (Nelson Mandela)
The path to success is filled with failures and roadblocks, with seemingly insurmountable difficulties and moments of deep and strong doubts. It’s tough. It’s rough. And it’s exactly how it is supposed to be. The sooner you accept that and nurture the muscles of your mental strength, the more powerful and less affected by life and dance misfortunes you will be.
More often than not, you will not nail that step or that choreography from the first try. If you believe that this doesn’t make you good enough of a dancer, you’ll be slowed down by every challenge, so much you’ll eventually feel blocked. The alternative is the belief in the value of hard work and practice. This is what makes the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
How strong is your mindset?
P – PERSEVERANCE
“Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not just for the month but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.” (Angela Lee Duckworth)
If you’re committed and hungry, you take action and you have a powerful mindset, all this will automatically speak of your passion-driven ability to pursue your goals in face of the worst odds. Perseverance takes you to the end of the finish line, to the end of that practice session and to the end of that competition. It takes you to your goal, that of becoming the champion of your dreams. Angela Lee Duckworth, researcher and psychologist, calls it “grit” and grit is what makes the difference between amateurism and mastery. It’s about courage, endurance and excellence in achieving your goals.
Do you have that indomitable grit?
I – INTENTION
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible.” (Anthony Robbins)
A life without goals might be enjoyable in its extreme lightness at first, but it will become unbearable as one explores its lack of meaning. In the same way, dancing can be fun and engaging when starting out, but the more you dive in and commit, the higher the need for objectives: yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals, result-driven goals. But if an intention is driven towards the future, it remains deeply rooted in the present and in your presence. You should include it everywhere: in your planning, during your practice, with your partner and throughout your performance. Intention acts like a filter; it hones your focus and directs it. And by removing the noise, it refines the message you are sending through your dance.
What is your intention?
O – OPPORTUNITIES
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)
Life is full of them, if you know how and where to look. You can find opportunities between the lines of your plan, in your team, with the help of your partner and in collaboration with your coach, through your community, online and offline, traditionally or through innovative means, etc.
“Impossible” simply doesn’t exist in a champion’s dictionary.
A champion sees opportunities where others see difficulties, like a challenging choreography or a highly competitive International Open. When most meet the end of a road, only a few create new paths. And the same obstacle that might knock someone down can inspire another, may it be a failure at a competition or illness in the family. In the same time, great leaders need to be realistic: opportunities are not dreams, they are real actions taken within a context.
What opportunities are your grabbing?
N – NO’S
“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was, and began diverting my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” (J.K. Rowling)
A champion knows when to say “yes” to an opportunity and when to say “no” to a hindrance, whatever that is. It could be a party on a practice night. It could be a new pair of normal shoes because dance shoes are more of a priority on a limited budget. It could be negative thoughts that weigh you down. But it could also be something extremely positive, like a fantastic job offer that is not aligned with your dance career.
So, learn to say “NO” to tempting things, to events and sometimes even to friends. Most importantly, say “NO” to what brings you down, for commitment to a life of excellence requires you to choose excellence on a daily basis. And this means sacrifice. The word seems like a burden, but when your priorities are clear and your motivation is high, it will appear much lighter. It will clear the way from the unimportant and thereby offer more space to what really matters.
Commitment, hunger, action, mindset, perseverance, intention, opportunities and no’s: that’s what a C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N is made of. There is no doubt that the path is difficult, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it if it matters to you. You have to be willing and eager to go all the way.
So tell me, what are you made of?