“Don’t wait for success to come your way because if you do, it will never happen.”- Coach MackeyWe are not passive participants in our futures. We are active creators.That’s not to say that opportunity and chance don’t play some role. But opportunityis useless if we don’t know what to do with it when it appears. We have to set the intentionto prepare for those opportunities, and that is when we will find success.Thatability to take advantage of opportunities depends on how hard we’ve worked toprepare for them. So the next time someone tells us “good luck,” we should replacethat idea with “hard work.”

Pillar: Work Ethic

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


Everyone loves celebrating the big things. But, because the focus is so often on celebrating the big things instead of the little victories, we sometimes buy the lie that it’s only important to be successful in the big things. That if we’re excellent on game day, we don’t have to work as hard in the off-season, or excel in the classroom.It doesn’t work that way, though. How we handle the little things expresses how we’ll handle the bigs things. If we want to find success on the field or court for the big wins, we need to commit to giving our best at the little things first.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: consistency; little things; next step; small step big goal; little moments; action


Click. Clack. It’s the last sound we hear before stepping out onto the field. It’s the unmistakable click clack of cleats on concrete. There’s a rush that comes with that sound because it carries with it all the hype of a game about to start.There’s a sense of pride that helps us dig deeper and go further to protect our home field advantage. We should be applying that same pride and drive to protect something even more important than our home field advantage: our character.

Pillar:  Personal Code

Key Topic: pressure; pride; family values; conflict; team values; coaching beyond the game


“Most people don’t go far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second wind.” - William JamesWhen we refuse to give up at the end of our first wind, a second wind rises up and we discover that we are capable of more than we ever believed. Most people never experience that realization because they are too quick to throw in the towel. But, if we put in the work long enough, hard enough, our perseverance is rewarded.We just have to remember that it’s not always easy to tell when we’ve hit the end of our first wind. The only way to really know, is to keep going.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topic: perserverance; four Cs of parenting; positivity; consistency


No one just stumbles into success. We have to succeed on purpose.A lot of time is spent focusing on why we are doing things. What is our reason and purpose for wanting to achieve this specific end result? Why is this goal special? But that’s not really what we’re talking about right now. There’sa difference between having a purpose and acting with purpose. Havinga purpose means having a goal that we are working towards for a reason. Acting with purpose means intentionally performing the actions required to reach that goal.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: 168 hours; efficiency; family; narrative; action; preparation


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.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

Week 7: ALL IN

It’s easy to say “I’m all in.” But how many of us actually put in 100% if we’re really being honest?It’s hard to actually go all in. What if we put all we have into this moment right here and it doesn’t work out? What if we give it our all throughout the game, and then we’re stuck in overtime with no energy left? “What if” is a mindset that will strangle our ability to give our all to anything. When we focus too much on what could potentially happen, the fear of not being prepared for it can cripple us.We need to let go of the “What if” mindset. We need to let go of the fear to trust. Because it’s only when we let go of the “What if” mindset that we can go all in on our goals and dreams. It’s only when we let go of the fear of trust that we can go all in on ourselves, our teammates, and our coaches

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: trust; if/then mindset; building trust; remaining calm;

Week 8: OUGHT VS. IS

The world isn’t perfect, and it isn’t fair. There are things that happen everyday that shouldn’t happen even once, and there are things that happen only rarely that should happen multiple times per day. There is a gap between what ought to be and what is. That gap presents an opportunity, though. It gives us a place to invest our time, energy, and resources. Because what ought to be is just a perception. It’s a dream. What is exists in the throes of reality, but it can be changed, and that change occurs in the gap between what ought to be and what is.In the end, the only thing that will bridge that gap, is our action.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: ghandi; belief; thought; action; change; team values;


Character will always overcome reputation. Sometimes that’s hard to believe because the cost has to be paid now, but the reward comes later. It’s a bit like saving for a car or college. We feel the pinch in the present and only have an intangible vision of the future to convince us that we’re doing the right thing by sacrificing now for something better later.Our character will always catch up to our reputation. The things that are true about us on the inside (our character) are always greater than what seems to be true on the outside (our reputation). Besides, it’s draining to live two separate lives. The energy we spend cultivating our reputation would be much better spent cultivating our character.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: discipline; core values; team values; family values;

Week 10: IN IT

Tomorrow’s leaders are built in today’s locker rooms. Playing on our teams are the nurses, teachers, politicians, lawyers, and doctors of the future. But becoming tomorrow’s leaders requires a willingness to assume a leadership role, not just tomorrow, but also today.The best leaders are willing to sacrifice to serve others. They will do the things that no one else does. They want to be right in the mix of the action, not hanging out on the sidelines watching others do all the work for them. They are willing to choose the harder right over the easier wrong. Leaders are willing to pay the higher cost because serving others is so worth it.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: sacrifice; leadership; communication;


Excellence is like grandma’s pie. It’s not perfect, and it’s not cookie-cutter. It’s unique. Only grandma can make it the way she makes it.Preparation. Integrity. Effort. PIE. We are the only ones who can control those three key ingredients to excellence.Excellence is not defined by points or any other game stat. It is defined by our prepa-ration and effort, which hinges on our integrity. When we prepare well, and when we give our best effort, it shows that we are acting with integrity. Those three things are what qualify us to execute on our goals and dreams.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: 168 hours; fail greatly; integrity; effort; preparation; excellence; helping others; leadership


How we respond when we get called out will tell us more about our future than anything else because if we are unwilling to accept correction, we can’t grow. There are two reactions to correction: we either reject the person’s comments as unnecessary criticism or we accept that the person is offering a potentially valuable alternative perspective.If we take a call out as personal criticism, it’s limits us. If we instead take it as a correction, we can receive the gift that they are trying to give us. When others see something in us (good or bad) that we just can’t see without outside perspective, and they take the time to point it out to us to help us see it, too, they are giving us a great gift. Maybe it’s not exactly what we asked for, but it might be exactly what we needed.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: praise in public; correct in private; control response; correction; criticism; honesty

Week 13: YOU VS. YOU

When we think about competition, we probably think about competing against another person or multiple people. But even when we participate in a competition with others, there’s always one competitor that we should be striving to beat, more than any other: ourselves.When we focus on competing with another person, we just have to be as good as them, or slightly better than they are. That limits how good we actually are or should be. When we focus on competing with ourselves, there’s no limit to how great we can become.Instead of letting others set the standard by competing against them, we should be setting our own standards and competing against ourselves. When our standards are driven by our goals and integrity, we improve little by little, every single day, without limit.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: comparison; competition; make a plan


The lessons you learn in the locker room can shape and change you for the rest of your life. Success in sports has a short shelf life; you can only play sports for so long before your body says it has had enough. Even if you’re the best athlete ever, the day will come when your ambition takes you to a place that terminates on a dead end road.Our character aligns us with something more than ourselves. When we love our family, we’ll do whatever it takes to succeed for their sakes. That deeper alignment between our goals, our family, and our character, moves us farther toward success than mere ambition ever could.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: purpose; alignment; FAMILY

Week 15: NEXT STEP

The most important step we will ever take towards reaching our goal is the next step. It doesn’t matter if we’re on step 15 or if we haven’t even taken a step yet toward the end goal. No matter where we are on the present journey, the most important step is the one we are about to take.Instead of ruminating on the past or trying to predict the future, we should be focusing on the one thing we can control: the next step.What is the next most immediate thing we have to do? It could be running laps, going to a Spanish class, or eating lunch. Whatever that next step in our day is, we should do it with excellence and focus. If we focus on the next step, that will bring about inner strength and unlock our potential.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: next step; focus forward; future-tripping; effort; encouragement; next play best play; let go; own mistakes


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.It takes a lot of courage to admit failure. But, if we can summon up the courage to admit to our mistakes, we take ownership of them. By taking ownership, we give ourselves the power to avoid making the same mistake twice. That’s how we learn, and that’s what propels us forward to reach our goals.

Pillar: Grit

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;


Every person we meet is either going through a struggle, coming out of a struggle, or about to go into a struggle. There’s nothing we can do about that because we can’t control whether we are going to struggle. In a sense, that’s kind of freeing because it means we have no reason to be ashamed that we are struggling.Overcoming trials and struggle is how we grow into the most complete version of ourselves. Steel doesn’t become one of the hardest workable materials on earth un-less it is tempered with fire, and a person doesn’t understand their true inner charac-ter without struggle. There is a bright future awaiting us, but we have to go through struggle to get to it.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: gratitude; thankfulness; be grateful; struggle; life happens for me; what are you full of?; positivity; perspective; where there's a will there's a way; positive mindset; narrative; thankfulness gratitude journal;


To be a champion, you need both internal and external accountability.Internal accountability is the standard you set for yourself based on your own integrity. It’s what makes you take ownership for your actions. It pushes you to prepare to the best of you ability and to put forth your best effort. It drives your commitment to your goals.Accountability, both internal and external, calls us to do the things we know we should be doing.It holds us to a higher standard than we might otherwise reach. Success requires giving your very best, and no one knows your best better than you do. That’s why no one can fully hold you to that standard except you.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: champion; accountability; responsibility; internal and external accountability; standards; integrity; ownership; effort; holding others accountable; support network;



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