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, mentor, personal code


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, grit


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


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 is 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 Topic: creating opportunity, education, relationship skills, integrity, lifestyle, action not access, hard work, work ethic


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: Growth Mindset

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


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: Goals

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


Are you a pretender or a contender? Everybody will say that they are contenders, but what do their actions show? At first glance, pretenders and contenders look the same, but that’s only on the surface. If we look a bit deeper, the differences become clear.Whether you are a pretender or a contender has nothing to do with your words and everything to do with your actions. If you want to be a contender, follow your integrity, embrace what you can become, and be patient in pursuit of your goals.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: grit, growth, hard work, effort, integrity, who you are on the inside, daily work


Our body language will communicate things that our words never will. Words can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or manipulated, but our body language will always tell the truth. It will always give us away. It’s a universal language.Your legs are burning, lungs on fire and your primary instinct is to bend over, put your hands on your knees, and catch your breath. At that moment, what does Coach say? “Stand tall!”Why? Because when you decide to stand tall, it communicates to everybody around you that you can be trusted. That you will be there when things get difficult.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics:body language, personal code, communication, belief, limiting beliefs, enabling beliefs, stand up for what's right


Everyday, we have a choice to make as to whether we want to impress people or impact people’s lives.When we focus on trying to impress others, we care about our reputations (and ourselves) more than we care about the impact we can have on the lives of others. The desire to impress others means that our purpose in life is one of selfishness and striving to be enough based on what other people see, rather than what we actually are.When we instead focus on trying to have an impact on others, we care about our character and the people we can assist more than we care about the records we can break to gain attention. When we desire to be impactful, our purpose is one of selflessness and striving to make the world a better place because we genuinely care about others.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: servant leadership, reward, impact, coaching beyond the game


Whether it’s before a game, a big exam, or a job interview, people like to use the phrase “good luck” to show that they wish us the best. The problem with that phrase is that it hints that we aren’t really the masters of our own success. “Good luck” says we aren’t really in control of whether or not we win the game, pass the test, or get the job offer. The truth is, we are in control. We control how much time we spend practicing drills and running plays before game, how hard we push to get faster, better, and stronger. We are not passive participants in our futures. We are active creators.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: preparation, intentionality, relationships, goal-setting, capability, capacity, SMART goals, hard work


Too often we’re disproportionately focused on talent over character. We view talent as the way to make it. We strive to develop our talent; maximize our skill; because we think it’s the thing that will drive us to succeed in life. All the while it’s easy to neglect character.How many division one athletes do you know who are untalented? You see, at a certain level, talent levels out. To maximize your talent, you must maximize your character. The strength of your character will determine the success of your talents.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: talent, character, effort, self-discipline, accountability, selflessness, humility, emotional intelligence, EQ, pride, selfishness, accepting criticism, eager to learn, growth mindset


What kind of teammate are you? This question impacts you as an individual, but it also impacts your team. How you answer this question makes all the difference both on and off the field.You have a lot of teams, though you may not think of them that way. Aside from the obvious sports teams, your family, friends, and classmates are also your teams. The type of teammate you are impacts the people around you. So the big question to ask is: What kind of teammate are you? Regardless of what team you are on, there are four answers to this question: content, complicit, committed, compelled.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: content, complicit, compelled, committed, team culture, casting a vision, celebrate, personal code


A Do-For will only do things for what they get out of it, such as working hard for the praise. The problem is that eventually what we do the thing for will not be enough. On the flip side, a Do-Right does the right thing because it’s right regardless of where they are or what they will get out of it. To do right requires pride, time, and failure.
When you Do For the reward or praise, it won’t be enough to keep you pushing through the tough times. Instead, wherever you are or what you need to accomplish: Do Right.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: work ethic, doing the right thing, pride, take your time, fear of failure, overcoming failure


We hear people say “failure is not an option” so often it’s become cliche. It’s right in one sense, though not the way most people mean it when they say the words. Failure is not an option (or is not optional) because failure is a fact of life. We will all fail at some point.The only thing optional about failure is how we fail. We can either fail forwards or backwards. If we choose to fail forward, our failures can help us become better. If we choose to fail backwards, our failures will anchor us to our worst moments. The difference lies in whether we allow ourselves to learn from the failure.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: failure, mistakes, rejection, learning from mistakes, fear of failure, failure is an event not a person, owning mistakes, courage, humility, story state strategy, growth mindset


It’s not fair. Why is this happening to me? These are common thoughts when reality doesn’t meet up with your expectations. Common, but unhelpful. Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people. Everyone makes mistakes.Even if you do everything right, you may still fail, but you have an opportunity to learn from this event and prepare for similar situations in the future. One method for seizing opportunities like this is the OODA Loop, originally developed by U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd. OODA stands for: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: punishment, discipline, reparations, mindset, expectation, reality, ought vs. is, communication skills, observe, orient, decide, act, OODA Loop, servant leadership


“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. 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 there.Reminding 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.

Pillar: Goals

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


Anger isn’t any more inherently wrong than fire. But like fire, it can be destructive if it’s not kept within boundaries. You have certain rights when it comes to your anger, but those rights can be forfeited if you let your anger control you instead of the other way around. The more you control your anger, the more even-keeled you will be.The more you can be angry without committing any of these anger rights violations, the more even-keeled you will be able to remain. And, the more even your temperament is, the better leader and teammate you will be.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: anger, anger rights, patience, control your anger, count the eyes, anger management, emotional release


Many student-athletes carry heavy loads. These are things that they weren’t meant to carry, yet the burden is dragging them away from their goals and dreams. These burdens are things like pressure to be perfect, fear of failure, and self-doubt. If you are carrying these things, then it’s time for you to make the swap.
Swap the pressure to be perfect for a best yet mindset. Swap the fear of failure for a growth mindset. Swap self-doubt for the belief that you are enough. The swap isn’t necessarily easy to make. But when you make the swap, all those heavy things you’re carrying stop weighing you down. Without that overwhelming load, you can move on to reach your goals, no matter how big they may be.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: pressure, expectations, perfection, become perfect, best yet, growth mindset, mentality, attitude, self-doubt, fear of failure, belief in self



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