After seeing the remarkable achievements of team GB in Olympics 2012, it made me think about what it takes to make a champion and whether it is possible to transfer these “champion-making” skills to the classroom. As a parent and a teacher, what can I do to make sure that children can achieve up to and if not, beyond their potential.
What qualities does a champion have? Is it down to natural talent or is it due to sheer hard work?
There is no magic formula, but the key ingredients are:
Passion and Enthusiasm
High achievers love what they do, and have a deep respect for it. Whether it’s a sport like Tennis or whether it’s a science project, they will absorb themselves into it. I’m not a champion, but I love Chemistry, and I have such a passion for it that I see chemistry everywhere. I see car number plates as the elements of the periodic table and I see hexagons and benzene rings. Find out what your child likes, what they have a passion for and allow them to follow it.
Even if someone has superior genes, it’s not enough to get to the top. Champions and high achievers actually enjoy working hard, and constantly push themselves to achieve more. In fact, if they are in a situation in which is too “easy” for them, then they will soon get bored and get out. Striving and struggling and working to the extreme limit is what they thrive on. After a bad test result, they are more likely to analyse the test in detail and revise twice as hard to improve. Mo Farah, the winner of the 10,000 metre race, trained 120 miles every week without fail. Children need to see how much hard work goes into making a champion. Show children how much it really takes to make a champion, the hours of hard work, the many failures and the lessons learned.
Champions are extremely focussed and never take their eye off the target. I’ve seen this in many athletes in the Olympics, and when an athlete loses concentration, they lose the game. Being focussed is a fundamental skill for children to learn. It’s easier to focus when there is a target to aim for, so whatever task a child has to do, give them a target. Target driven learning is much more successful.
Ambition and High Aims
Champions know what they want and they aim high. Aiming high allows them to visualise success, and it drives them. But just having ambition is not enough. You will find that Champions have a main target but also lots of min-targets and goals. They adhere to a strict timetable and nothing can get in their way. So if your child wants to climb Mount Everest, then let him have those dreams. It may seem like a pipe dream to you, but don’t discourage your child. Instead help and encourage him to take one step at a time remembering to give rewards for small achievements.
A Love of Competition
Champions are not afraid of losing a game or playing or racing against someone who is better than them. They see competition as part of the struggle to get to the top. They use competitions as opportunities to learn and improve and to gauge their success. Encourage your child to be more competitive.
By competing, they learn how to:
work under pressure
how to stay focussed
how to handle things when they don’t go their way
how to perform in front of other people
The journey to excellence begins with a belief and an attitude that says “no matter what happens, I will and I can do it”. I believe that once a child has this in their heart, then anything is possible. What do you believe?