Week 19: Step Up

We step up because we can push our own boundaries. We can go further. We can be faster. We can get better. And we don’t need anyone else to push us to do those things. We have the motivation and discipline inside us to get thereReminding ourselves to step up is less about having to get better than about knowing we can get better and proving it to ourselves every time we step on the court, field, or track. We can do whatever we can imagine, and the idea of stepping up is just accepting that fact and proving it to ourselves.“Step up” isn’t a negative challenge we should be hearing from other people; it’s a positive challenge we should be giving ourselves everyday.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics:modiha; motivation; discipline; habit; hardship; struggle; overcome; goal-setting; servant leadership; positive pressure

Week 20: Embrace Discipline

Discipline gives us the impetus to move forward and keep improving. We can imagine laying on a beach without a care all day, but at the end of that day, what has that gained us for the next day? On the other hand, if we spend that day in the weightroom or the classroom, putting our time and energy into enhancing our bodies and our minds, the next day brings new and better things.If we discipline ourselves to do the things we don’t want to do today, we will get the things we do want tomorrow.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: discipline; self-discipline; punishment; correction; communication; improvement; growth

Week 21: Three C’s

We can’t always predict if something is going to set us off, but we can prepare for situations that we know are more stressful. We know that we’ll be more short-fused during a game than at other times. So how are we going to prepare for that?We know that our fuse gets shorter when preparing for a test, or right after practice, or in the early morning. Before or after whatever activity or during whichever time of day we get prickly, we should already be aware that this is a time when we’re more likely to be short-tempered.So with that knowledge, we have to ask ourselves: How can I prepare so that my fuse stays a little bit longer?

Pillar:  Grit

Key Topic: response vs. reaction; control anger; control frustration; control response;

Week 22: Cheat Code

There is no shortcut to success. The only way to reach our goals is by being committed to taking the long road. When it comes down it, reaching our goals isn’t all that complicated. It just requires commitment and consistency.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topic: consistency; compartmentalizing; struggle; pain; rock bottom; overcome; coaching beyond the game;

Week 23: Let Go

If we’re gripping onto something too tightly, whether that thing is good or bad, we’re not paying attention to other things around us that could be even better. When our hand is closed into a tight fist, we can’t accept any gifts. When our mind is latched onto a particular moment, we can’t focus on any other moments.So, the question probably isn’t: Am I holding on to something I should let go of?Instead, the question is: How do I let go of this thing?

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: let go; overcome; pride; helping others; savor the moment

Week 24: Then What?

We all want to win, and we don’t want to win just once. We want it over and over and over again. Once we get a little taste of it, we can’t helping wanting just one more taste. In the same way that we want just one more potato chip or just one more day of summer vacation, we want just one more slice of that success pie.But what happens once we get it? Then what?The thing is, winning is about taking, while success is about giving. True success is measured more by the things we give to others than by the number of trophies we take. The generosity that comes from true success doesn’t have to be about material goods, either. We can also give our time and energy to our family, frie nds, and neighbors. That’s because the greatest success in life doesn’t come from scoring more, it comes from serving others more.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: good neighbor project; community; narrative; impacting others; success vs. winning

Week 25: Seems Easy

MoDiHa. Motivation → Discipline → Habit.Before the motivation fades, we have to replace it with something a bit sturdier: Discipline. Willpower and structure combine in discipline to keep us moving forward no matter how tough things get. Our goal may seem thousands of miles away and every movement toward it is hard, but with discipline, we can push until we reach a point where it’s not so tough anymore.Before we know it, we’re choosing to get up early, or read in Spanish, or eat a salad without making a conscious choice. We just do it without really thinking about it. At that point, our relentless discipline has formed a habit and changed the way that we think. A change in our thought process doesn’t happen overnight, but with enough discipline and effort over time, we develop habits that make the hard stuff seem easy.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: modece; modiha; motivation; discipline; habit; mindset; celebrate; values;

Week 26: Be You

There are thousand of voices out in the world telling you to be something other than who you are. Some of these voices are external. Ads that say you need this makeup or those jeans to be attractive. Bullies who say you aren’t good enough. Well-meaning friends or relatives who tell you to be cautious because they don’t want to see you hurt. Other voices are internal. Fear. Doubt. Insecurity.These voices all have one thing in common: They are 100% wrong.You don’t need to be what anyone else tells you to be. You are enough. Being you is a choice, though. You could pretend to be someone else or follow dreams that aren’t yours. But you are the only you there has ever been, so why would you choose to be anyone other than you?Every person on the planet is a unique individual with their own preferences, personalities, and passions. You should celebrate your unique qualities and those of the people around you. You were created on purpose and for a purpose, and it’s up to you to figure out how that translates into the kind of life you want to lead.Who you are is not dictated by what you do. Rather, what you do reveals who you are. Find what makes you come alive, and do that thing. Don’t let any voice, internal or external, tell you that you can’t. Then, what you do will reveal the fullest expression of who you are.Don’t worry about what the rest of the world wants you to be, just be you.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: be yourself; you are enough; relationships;

Week 27: Your Role

“Know your role” often has a negative connotation, as if there’s something wrong with being a roleplayer rather than a playmaker. But there’s no shame in being a linebacker rather than a quarterback or an outfielder rather than a pitcher. They’re all important roles.We all have a role to play on the team and in our lives. We have different jobs that no one else can do. Those things are our responsibilities, and we have to take care of business to get things done.Our roles change throughout our lives. Whatever our current role, we have to do our jobs to the best of our ability. If we’re worried about doing someone else’s job instead, we aren’t taking care of our own job. There’s an old saying “If you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch none.” It means if we’re trying to do our job and someone else’s, things are going to fall through the cracks, and no one wins.We learn and accomplish more by knowing our roles and sticking to them. If we perform in our roles to the best of our ability, everyone succeeds. It’s when we try to step out of those roles without knowing what we’re doing that things start to fall apart.The bottom line is that we just have to do our jobs.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: family name; servant leadership; others-centered; every role matters;

Week 28: Be Here

Growth MindsetLife is a journey.We can’t focus too much on our past or our future. We have to be here. In this moment. Otherwise, we’ll miss out on all of the great experiences that make life worthwhile. The past is gone, and the future is a mystery. The best things aren’t yet to come. They’re already right here. This day. This hour. This moment.It might not seem like we’re in the best moment already when we’re daydreaming of playing in the pros or moving into our own place. When we’re in the middle of running suicides, right here doesn’t feel like the best moment ever, and we only keep doing it for the future results. When we’re down 20 points in the 4th quarter and the clock just keeps ticking away any chance at redemption, right here doesn’t feel like somewhere we want to be at all.But that thinking misses the point of being present in the moment. We may only be running suicides to build the endurance we need tomorrow, but we can’t reach that tomorrow without learning the pain and the strength of those suicides today. We may hate the feeling of being in a game we can’t win, but that feeling and what we’re learning from the experience, will feed our drive and hone our skills for tomorrow. We can’t reach our goals tomorrow until we put in the work today.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: be present; moderation; situational awareness; active listening;

Week 29: No Fear

“Fear is the mind-killer.” Frank Herbert, DuneWe’ve all been paralyzed with fright at some point in our lives. Whether it’s from seeing a spider on the shower curtain or walking onto a stage in front of hundreds of people for a speech. We freeze in place for a moment, palms get clammy or sweaty, and our heartbeat picks up the pace. Whatever the cause, no matter how exotic or mundane, fear is universal.That doesn’t mean it’s all powerful. The reactions we experience when confronted with something that scares us is based on how things appear. Fear is how our nervous system reacts to things that we’re programmed to think can kill us. It’s an alert system to move away from the dangerous circumstance as fast as possible. Fear is the belief that if we do this thing, we might get hurt.Fear wants us to believe that we can’t do the things we want to do. It wants to hold us back. But, it only has the power to do so if we let it. If we choose to lean into our fears and face them, fear has no power over us.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: fear; overcome; leadership; let go; focus forward;

Week 30: Stand Firm

It’s easy to say “Never give up.” It’s only three words, and saying it costs nothing. It’s a lot harder to back it up, though. It’s hard to refuse to quit when the sun is blazing overhead, or you’re sinking into the mud, or you hurt all over. It’s hard to stand firm in your belief that you can achieve your goals. It gets tempting to just let it go, to just pick an easier dream.You are worth so much more than that, though. You are worth the struggle. You are worth the fight to keep going. Don’t lose sight of that. Nothing is impossible if you keep trying because success always lies in trying just one more time. Stand firm behind your dreams and keep chasing them because you are worth it. You know it, and so do the people around you.It can be hard to ask for help. It can be hard to accept help. You might feel that you should be strong enough to accomplish your goals without assistance from anyone. But sometimes the strongest thing you can do to reach your goals is to ask for or to accept help. Sometimes standing firm means standing with the strength of others.You and your goals are worth fighting for. They are worth accepting help to achieve. “Never give up” is easy to say, and hard to live, but you are worthy of living it.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: let go; pride; don't quit; stand firm; growth;

Week 31: Charlie Mike

In the military, missions don’t always run smoothly. Maybe the team doesn’t feel they have the right resources or the situation doesn’t look ideal. They may want to give up on this one.But orders come from the top, and when they request or recommend to abort mission, the answer might instead be: Charlie Mike. Continue MissionThe problem is that when we give up easily on the little things, we train ourselves to give up on the big things. It’s just like working out or running drills. Whatever muscle we give reps to is the muscle that gets stronger.We prefer to take the easy road and quit. We prefer to let the reps for quitting on easy things build that muscle. We prefer to give up on our dreams instead of putting in the hard work to keep going. It’s a choice. We can choose to keep building the quit muscle or we can choose to Charlie Mike.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: no excuses; stand firm; don't quit; grit; priority

Week 32: Joy Thief

Comparison helps no one, in sports or in life. When we compare ourselves to our teammates, classmates, or opponents, all we see is our own deficiencies. That guy has a faster throw than I do. That girl spikes harder than I can. That guy is better in physics than I am. That girl gets more answers right in geometry than I do.It doesn’t matter what someone else does or how much better they do it. What matters is how well we do something and how close that is to our personal best.Competition helps us get better, but comparison just makes us bitter.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: effort; comparison; competition; mudita;

Week 33: Family Name

Our lives are touched by several different traditions. These traditions come from our family, our community, our school, and our team.We have a responsibility to uphold these traditions, but also to enhance them. Tradition doesn’t determine what we do. What we do determines our tradition.The tradition of our sports program may be winning the district championship or making it to state, but that tradition is only carried on by what we do this year. Just because we won last year doesn’t mean we’ll automatically win this year. Just because we win this year doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically win next year.The tradition of our family may be going to college, but that tradition is only carried on by us choosing to do the same and putting in the effort required to get there. Just because our parents went to college doesn’t mean that we will. Just because we go to college doesn’t mean that our children will.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: tradition; legacy; family name; improvement; growth;

Week 34: Personal Pride

Pride often has negative connotations of arrogance or stubbornness. But pride can be a positive thing. Your actions determine the type of pride you cultivate. Do you cultivate negative pride or positive pride?You can think of positive pride in terms of this acronym: Personal Responsibility In Daily Excellence.Positive pride means taking personal responsibility for your actions everyday. People who exhibit positive pride take ownership of their commitment, effort, and attitude. They recognize that they control the direction their life will take.If you cultivate too much negative pride, it will lead you to reject growth, which means you’ll just be spinning your wheels exactly where you are now. On the other hand, if you cultivate positive pride, you’ll continually grow and expand your opportunities to keep moving forward

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: positive pride; pride; excellence; responsibility; growth, improvement; correction;

Week 35: You Choose

“No one can choose your character but you.” Coach MackeyYour character is not dictated by your circumstances. You choose the type of character you will develop. Just as you choose your level of commitment and effort or your attitude.All year these lessons have been giving you the building blocks to construct a firm foundation for your character to grow on. The lessons apply to sports and being a good athlete, but they also apply to your life outside of the game.We’ve talked about taking responsibility, pushing through struggle, never giving up, owning your mistakes, and many other topics that will help you on and off the field to be the best possible version of yourself. The lessons only work if you let them, though. Ultimately, you choose whether or not to accept those lessons and integrate them into your life.No one can make you stand firm in the face of struggle or embrace discipline. No one can convince you to let go of things that are out of your control or to believe that overnight success is a myth. You have to come to terms with those things on your own, and that is a choice.You can be told these things all day, everyday, and still not have them affect your life unless you make the choice to take them seriously and let your actions reflect that choice. The future version of you is dependent on what the present version of you chooses to believe and to do. The belief and the action are both important. Without the belief, you’ll never have a reason to act, but without the action, the belief won’t have an impact on your life.Sports are a fantastic arena for learning these life lessons. In the end, they’re exactly that: Life Lessons. After you step off of the field, these lessons are still with you, helping you to live a better, more successful, life.That is, if you choose to let them.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: decisions; responsibility; choice; personal development; impact; coaching beyond the game

Week 36: Tick Tock

Time is a funny thing. When you’re sitting through a geometry lecture or waiting in line at the store, the minute hand on the clock seems glued in place. When you’re in the last few minutes of the final quarter trying to catch up or playing video games with friends, the seconds seem to flash by at lightning speed.Of course, how it seems isn’t how things really are. This second lasts the same amount of time as the previous second did and the next one will. Whether time seems to drag or zoom, it’s all really moving at the same speed. We’re marching toward the future at an unwavering pace.You can either let the days drift by or take control of the time you’re given and put it to use. The days of summer vacation may seem endless, but they’re passing by at the same rate as days during the school year. If you just drift through it, August will seem to sneak up on you. But, if you take control of the days by taking ownership for your own progress, you will be fully prepared for the struggle that August brings.The same is true of other types of struggle. Life is often unpredictable, and you can never know or control what the next day will bring. You can control how you react to whatever the future holds. Even though you can’t predict exactly what struggle you will face, you know that some type of struggle is coming. Each day you can prepare for those unknown obstacles by building skills like commitment, determination, and discipline.Those skills will help you make it through the heat of August and the pressures of the season, and they will help you make it through the unknown struggles that life will throw in your path.Every moment is an opportunity to prepare for the next big event or the next struggle waiting just over the horizon. The clock is ticking. Will you be ready?

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: 168 hours; struggle; overcome; action; responsibility



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