When you want something really bad, you're willing to run hard to get it. Running hard may look like actual running in practice, or it might look like studying when you'd rather play video games. Running hard means pursuing what matters in your life. Run hard after your passions. Run hard after your talent. But run hardest after what matters most: your character.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: personal code, passion, character vs talent, character wins, character reps, what matters most, you choose


When you compare yourself to others, your greatness can only be comparative. But when you focus instead on growing and becoming the best that you can be, then you embrace competitive greatness. Competition fuels growth while comparison fuels shame. Shame will hold you back from achieving all that you can achieve, but a growth mindset will propel you forward to do things you can only imagine.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: growth mindset, failure, overcoming obstacles, be proud of yourself, pride, competition, iron sharpens iron, success


Whether you are driven by praise or pride makes a huge difference in how tough you are. If you are driven by praise, there will come a day when there's not enough praise in the world to get you to do what needs to be done. But if you're driven by pride, your sense of self worth will always be enough to help you overcome the obstacles in front of you. As with anything else, it's a choice. Do you choose to be driven by praise or pride?

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: grit, praise, criticism, pride, humility, be proud of yourself, purpose, find your why


When someone gives up, it's usually not because they are incapable of continuing, but because they become discouraged. As Daniel Eckstein said, "Encouragement closes the gap between a person's potential and their self-imposed limitations." To be good teammates, we need to help our teammates close the gap. To do that, we've got to become elite encouragers.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: servant leadership, encouragement, encouraging others, supporting others, positive confrontation, set the example, leadership skills, believe in others


We live in a world that's obsessed with being THE best. And that can make you forget that what really matters is being YOUR best. Comparison to others and expecting perfection from yourself are traps that will try to prevent you from achieving your best. But your best is enough to reach your goals and dreams, so long as you consistently do the required and unrequired work.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: give your best, comparison, chasing perfection, pursuit of perfection, unrequired work, work ethic, consistent hard work, work hard, chase excellence


We all feel like life is chaotic sometimes. If you want to feel in control of your life, you've got to control the controllables. Instead of being a control freak about things that you can't control, be a control freak about the things you CAN control. That's things like preparation, effort, and focus. When you feel like life is chaos, let go of what you can't control, and become a control freak about what you can control.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: goals, control the controllables, let go, effort, focus, preparation, 5 Ps, your best


The common response to adversity, challenges, or bad days is to blame others or to say something like: Why me? This isn't fair! But when we instead decide to be uncommon, we say Thanks to adversity, challenges, and bad days. Life is happening for you, not to you. When you choose to believe that, when you choose to say Thanks for the hardships that come your way, you open yourself up to growth.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: adversity, challenges, what to do with a bad day, be uncommon, gratitude, life is for you, hardship, overcoming obstacles, grit, growth through adversity


Hoping, wishing, and wanting will not help you achieve your goals. You've got to actually do the work to make your dreams come true. The One Day goal matters, but it is the next one thing that is going to get you there. Success is built over time by doing the next one thing that will help you reach your goal. What that one thing is will change, but the mindset that it matters never does.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: one day, future-tripping, goals, success, mindset, overnight success, next step, little things, focus


Coach calls you out because he or she loves you too much to let you be less than your best. And love is the same reason why you should call out your teammates when they aren't meeting the standard. As uncomfortable as it might be, if you truly care about your teammates, if you love your teammates, then you've got to encourage them with a call out when they aren't living to the standard. You've got to speak up.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: call out, coachabiliity, FAMILY, forget about me I love you, building relationships, growth mindset, how to call out your teammates, encouragement, set the standard


It's easy to compare yourself to others, but that comparison will lead you to be the wrong size. For example, when you get too big, pride leads the way and then you fall, and when you get too small, you beat yourself. But, when you're the right size, you view yourself accurately. Instead of comparing yourself to others and trying to adjust your size accordingly, let humility and confidence guide you to be the right size.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: comparing yourself to others, comparison trap, confidence, humility, accountability, coachability, vulnerability, how to be the right size, personal code


If you feel like you're stuck on a hamster wheel, working really hard but not getting anywhere, then you need the 3 E's in your life. Set high Expectations for yourself and pair them with Encouragement from friends, family, and teammates. Allow your coach and your teammates to call you out, so they can Equip you to use the Encouragement and meet the Expectations. If you want off the hamster wheel, remember the 3 E's: Expectation, Encouragement, and Equipping.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: expectation, equipping, encouragement, pressure, how to be a good teammate, encouraging others, work ethic, set the standard, high standards


One of the greatest leadership myths is that once you become a leader, you no longer have to follow. This is a lie because the best leaders remember what it was like to follow first. Your strength as a leader does not come from your position; it comes from your ability to bring together and work within the team. When you remember what it was like to follow first, it will make you a better leader.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: servant leadership, how to lead, teamwork, how to follow, leadership myth, working together


Most people feel the urge to curse at themselves or say something mean when they mess up. It's so common because our society has bought the lie that we can shame ourselves into growth. But all that negative self talk is really going to do is push us down a dark road. Instead of getting angry and calling yourself a loser or a failure; replace that lie with the truth that you lost or failed, but that the event of failure does not lessen your worth as a person. If you're going to reach your goals and dreams, then you've got to remove the heavy lies of negative self talk and replace them with the truth.

Pillar: Growth Mindset

Key Topics: growth mindset, self talk, negative self talk, internal monologue, failure, try again, shame, personal narrative, perspective


Everyone loves celebrating the big things. The trophies, the big wins, the acceptance letters. They’re all big achievements, and they are certainly worthy of celebration, but people tend to forget all of the little things that had to happen to make those big things a reality. 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. Over time, the little things will add up to become the big things.

Pillar: Goals

Key Topics: consistency, little things, next step, small step, big goal, little moments, action, goals, discipline, trust


A team is stronger as a unit than the sum of its individual players. Or at least, it can be–so long as the team trusts one another. A team that has trust will go much farther than a group of individuals who don't trust each other. If you want to build trust on your team, it's going to take three things: time, truth, and testing.

Pillar: Servant Leadership

Key Topics: servant leadership, trust, trustworthy, teamwork, spend time together, honesty, truth, challenges, overcoming obstacles, how to build trust


We live in a culture that is quick to quit. It’s so easy to go through life with a “Free-Trial” mentality, where you never have to commit to anything. But commitment isn’t just a tool to be used to help achieve a goal or a stepping stone in your personal journey of more. Commitment is a willingness to bring your best work to a worst case scenario. When you do that, your commitment produces perseverance, growth, service, hard work, and execution.

Pillar: Grit

Key Topics: grit, commitment, alignment, boundaries, how to set boundaries, commitment cost, promises, keeping your word, hard work


Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? It may sound like a silly question, but it has some serious implications for your success on the field and in the game of life. Every day, you must ask yourself: “Did I set the temperature of my life, or did others set it for me? Did I let positive influences into my life, or did I hang with people who lead me away from my goals?" Only you can decide whether you’ll be a thermostat who influences those around them or a thermometer who picks the right influences to have around them.

Pillar: Work Ethic

Key Topics: work ethic, set the tone, set the example, you choose, influence, friendships, leadership, hard work


The best way to have great teammates is to choose to be a great teammate. Great teammates are both quick and slow. They are quick to listen, to learn, and to love. But they are slow to speak, to anger, and to judge. Pride will try to twist you up so you're quick to speak, to anger, and to judge while being slow to listen, to learn, and to love. But humility will help you put things back where they belong. When you choose to be a great teammate, one who is both quick and slow in the right ways, then you will help your teammates to do the same.

Pillar: Personal Code

Key Topics: personal code, listen, learn, love, anger, judgment, think before you speak, teamwork, how to build trust, pride, humility, how to be a good teammate



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