Week 1: Higher Standards

A standard is defined as “a level of quality or attainment.” It’s a measure of accountability that directly influences your impact in sports and in the game of life. When you have low standards, you will have low success. However, the opposite is also true. As the level of your standards increase, so increases your success. That’s because with higher standards, comes a higher level of accountability, training, commitment, grit, and focus on goal achievement. Your success in the game of life is directly related to the standards you hold yourself to.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: high standards; support system; peer pressure; family standards; mentorship

Week 2: Sacrifice Required

There are a lot of things, when it comes to finding success in the game of life, that are optional. Whatever you might find on that exhaustive list, the one thing you will not find is sacrifice. Sacrifice is required for reaching your goals as an individual and as a team. As challenging as this concept is, it is worth every painful moment. When you learn how to use sacrifice to your advantage, you unlock a door to success that few people are ever willing to walk through. The reality of sports and of the game of life, however, is that if you don’t sacrifice for your goals, then you will sacrifice your goals.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: sacrifice required; leaders set the example; willing sacrifice; work now to reap rewards later; sacrifice for family; greater purpose

Week 3: Most Valuable

Who is the most valuable person in your life? You might say your mom, your grandfather, or maybe even your girlfriend or boyfriend. Sure, there’s always an easy answer to that question, but the easy answer may not always be the most accurate. If we zoomed out of your life and looked at the person you value the most, do the most for, and focus on the most, you’d most likely be looking in the mirror. If you want to find success in the game of life, then you must learn to treat every person you meet, from the custodian to the coach that’s recruiting you, the same. Treat every person you meet like they are the most valuable person you’ve ever met.

Pillar:  Servant Leadership

Key Topic: servant leadership; serving others; service; team goals; putting others first; communication

Week 4: R-Factor

You can’t control the events in your life – most of the things that happen to you in life will be beyond your control. Events you don’t plan for and outcomes beyond your control are the norm, and out of your hands. But there is one thing you can always control, and that is your response to a given situation. You can always control your response. We call that the R-Factor, and if you want success in the game of life, it might be the most important thing that you have to master in all your life.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topic: family standards; setting a good example; modelling behavior; responsive vs reactionary; control your response;

Week 5: Knock Knock

We’ve all heard the saying, “When opportunity knocks, you better open the door.” That phrase claims if you’re not in the right place at the right time, you’ll miss your shot. Let’s get one thing straight: opportunity it not a unicorn. It’s not rare, and it’s definitely not a once in a lifetime chance. Opportunity is everywhere. The question is not, when will opportunity knock? The real question is, what doors am I building for opportunity to knock on? The more doors you build, the more opportunities you will have. The people that believe opportunity is a matter of luck haven’t picked up a hammer to make their own way. They’ve complained more than they’ve constructed.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: creating opportunity; education; relationship skills; integrity; lifestyle; action not access; hard work; work ethic

Week 6: Become Perfect

There are two types of mindsets people operate from: a fixed-mindset and a growth-mindset. But there is only one mindset that leads to success: the growth mindset. That’s because the growth mindset isn’t focused on where you’ve been or what you have, it’s focused on where you’re going. It’s focused not on what you have in this moment, but instead on what you’re going to gain in every moment between now and then. “Become perfect” is a growth mindset. “Become perfect” says “I may not be there today, but I’m going to get there soon.”

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: growth not perfection; learning from mistakes; consequences; WISDOM; gratitude; strength; creating opportunity; perspective; intention

Week 7: What If?

Every great idea the world has ever known began with the question, “What if?” From Thomas Edison to Dr. King, Kenny Sailors to Mark Zuckerburg, BIG ideas begin with a with small question. Sadly, so many people refuse to “risk the if” and settle for the “is.” What is acceptable? What is easy? What is the path of least resistance? But, for those who are willing to risk failure, there is a world of unfathomable possibility– not only in your life, but through your life. IF you can ask the right question.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: dream big; ask what if; overcome fear; zero waste mindset; growth not perfection

Week 8: No Excuses

“No excuses” might be the most cliche, over-used, and repeated phrase in all of sports. It has been shouted, drilled, and repeated in every locker room from the big apple to the pineapple, plastered on walls, and printed on t-shirts. Yet, as familiar, and self-explanatory as this phrase is, few people (especially high-school students) ever actually put it into practice. In fact, most student athletes do the exact opposite: they give excuse after tired excuse. The reality is, however, that excuses have NEVER ONCE lead to success. Ever. So, if we want to be the kind of men and women that find success, despite our circumstances, we must learn to do more than talk about “No excuses.”

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: expensive language; backpack full of bricks; ownership; accountability; 3-why method;

Week 9: Five P’s

When is the game really won? Is it when you run up the scoreboard? When the clock ticks out to zero? When you stride a few inches longer than your opponent? While all those are technically true, they don’t tell the whole story. A more complete story is, if you want to outscore your opponent on Friday night, you’ve gotta outwork them Saturday-Thursday. Victory is not simply had on the playing field, it’s had on the practice field. If you want to win in the game, you’ve got to win in practice. The math is rough, but in general, you will only spend around 8 percent of your time in a sport in the game. You’ll spend somewhere around 92 percent of your time practicing, watching film, working on the fundamentals, honing mental skills, and lifting in the weight room. That’s why we say: Prior Preparation Permits Proper Performance.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: 168 hours; preparation; prior preparation permits proper performance;

Week 10: Eighteen Inches

We can HEAR all of the right things that we ever need to hear in life–all of the love and encouragement, that we are valued or that we have potential, inspirational talks, great speeches, or be given hope and encouragement, the right game plan, or the right play call. We can HEAR everything right, but until what we HEAR, travels the 18 inches from our “head to our heart”, and becomes something we DO, nothing will ever come from it. We can hear about being successful, and we can think about being successful, but until we actually do what is right we will not be successful– not in sports and not in the game of life.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: coachable; the power of why; communication; commitment; explanation

Week 11: One Thing

Your future success is dependent upon you doing the right work, right now. Not just hard work, but the right work. And not just the right work; not just hard work tomorrow, or yesterday, but right now. Success is found when you do the right work, right now. That’s why it is so important to find the one thing that you’ve got today to make you successful tomorrow. When you hyper-focus on the one thing you need to do today, everyday, and then you do it again and again for the rest of your life, you find success like you’ve never imagined.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: family goal; next step; little things; reverse engineer; goals; goal-setting;

Week 12: Purposed Pain

Have you ever wondered the difference between those people who are rushed by adversity and those who are catapulted by it? What makes some people fall apart when pain and adversity comes their way, while other people seem to be made stronger by it? Zig Ziglar said, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” Perhaps the single greatest characteristic of a “tough person” is their ability to transform their pain into “purposed pain.” When a person, 18 or 80, can point their pain in a positive direction they forge a strength that will allow them to overcome any obstacle, achieve any goal, and become more than they ever imagined.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: integrity; struggle; focus forward; communication; pain; control anger;

Week 13: Own It

Nobody likes making mistakes. They’re embarrassing. They’re uncomfortable. They make you confront the fact that you are not perfect. But, something powerful happens when, instead of shying away from the fear of making mistakes, we embrace mistakes as a welcomed teacher. Mistakes and the discomfort that comes with them can be one of the most powerful tools for our lives, if we let them. But, if all we do is run away from situations where we might make a mistake, we’ll never grow. When we let go of the fear and negative power of making mistakes, there’s no limit to what we can do.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: standards; expectations; rules; mistakes, accountability, responsibility; future-tripping; own your mistakes;

Week 14: Why Not?

“Why?” is a good question. It helps focus you. They say “if you know your why then you can overcome any how.” You can figure it out if you know why you’re doing it. “Why?” is a good question. But, intrinsic to the question of “why?” is this idea that what you’re about to do might not be good for you. But, the question “why not?” is different. The question of “why not?” is concerned with, “Why are you not doing something that you already know is good for you?” This small adjustment, can make a major impact in your life.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: integrity; honesty; excellence; aggregation of marginal gains; marginal gains; improvement

Week 15: Overnight Success

We’ve all had daydreams of being “discovered” out of the blue for our awesome talents. It looks like it happens all the time: a YouTuber’s video goes viral or a hot new musician pops up from nowhere. Outside looking in, success just happened like they wished on a lucky penny and *poof* there it was. But, internet celebrities, musicians, and pro athletes have given us a skewed view of what it means to be successful. So often, those big careers make it seem like success just happens overnight. One day, he’s joe schmoe, and the next, he’s world famous. It doesn’t work that way, though. Success isn’t something that just happens. These celebrities weren’t just walking down the street one day when they ran face first into fame. They worked long and hard for that recognition.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: hard work; success; servant leadership; have a plan; process

Week 16: Focus Forward

Forward is not just a direction. It’s a mindset. Having the focus and tenacity to keep moving forward no matter what distractions come your way is a powerful tool. The greatest predictor of success is not intelligence, physical strength, natural aptitude, or even a combination of these things. Instead, the greatest factor in whether or not a person can accomplish their goals is one thing: Grit. Grit is the willpower and determination to pick a goal and get to it, no matter what tries to get in your way. It’s the focus and tenacity that keeps you moving forward even if the whole world is trying to push you backward.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: grit; tenacity; perspective; focus forward; goal-setting; perserverance

Week 17: Clark Kent

Superheroes often wear disguises to hide their identities from the world. One of the most famous examples is Superman’s disguise as Clark Kent, but we can all think of plenty of others. In a similar way, we wear disguises everyday based on where we are or who we’re with. These disguises are natural, but they’re also a defense mechanism. We wear them because we’re afraid that if we show people who we really are, we might be rejected or ridiculed. These disguises form the basis of our reputations, and they can become so integral to our self-image that we might even forget sometimes that we’re wearing a disguise. But, we have to try to remember that we are not our disguise, or our reputation. Instead, we are our character. Reputations are changeable, and they’re based on other people’s perceptions. Character is a lot harder to alter, and it’s based on the reality of who we are, whether other people see it or not.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: character; reputation; foundation; coaching beyond the game; potential;

Week 18: Guaranteed Struggle

Struggle shows up in every area of our life at some point. Struggle can be having a hard time learning a new subject or having to push yourself to the edge of exhaustion to finish that mile run or having to deal with a rough home life. But if you didn’t struggle, how would you ever learn? And if you didn’t learn, how would you ever improve? We can’t control whether or not we are going to struggle. That’s one of life’s guarantees, and we can’t escape it. What we can control is how we deal with that struggle. We can try to run away from it, but in the end, that’s only going to prolong the pain of struggle.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: struggle; pain; coping mechanisms; overcome;



Stephen Mackey, CEO & Founder

Stephen Mackey is a player development coach, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and founder of 2Words Character Development, one of the top Leadership and character curriculums in the country. Building on the Six Pillars of a Championship Character – Toughness, Integrity, Belief, Excellence, Effort, and Service – Mackey equips teams and organizations to elevate their performance by building a culture of character.
Patrick Jones - Course author