“Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” - Jocko Willink and Leif Babin in Extreme Ownership
Can sixth graders learn professionalism? Professionalism means energy, focus, and commitment to improving your craft, with "extreme ownership." Professionals serve and sacrifice.
Learn to "take care of business." Middle schoolers can't control what time their parents bring them to practice. But they control when they are ready to go and whether they arrive physically and mentally engaged. They control completion and excellence of school assignments.
Design your life or your life will have no design. Taking care of business means adequate rest, proper diet, and training.
"Pack your chute". Is your parachute ready to deploy? Have your gear ready. Your parents aren't responsible for your inhaler, sneakers, extra socks, contact lens solution, a couple of adhesive bandages and tape. Parents have many responsibilities. Become self-reliant.
Develop a mindset of character not entitlement. Success is a choice. Character represents your core values, your ethos, who you are. You make your habits and your habits make you. Develop a worthy identity. Become reliable.
Attention is the first price we pay. We enhance our memory and grasp of the world consciously. What foot hits the floor first when we get out of bed (my left)? How do we increase our memory and attention? Mindfulness training, scheduled study, and thinking about thinking (metacognition) present three valued tools. Read more and read better. Use the Feynman technique. Learn it, teach it, simplify it, challenge it.
Preparation matters. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." - John Wooden Are you ready for the expected and the unexpected? Success at the free throw line in crunch time manifests from hundreds of hours practicing.
Self-awareness. "Know thyself." Know personal strengths and weaknesses. Do more of what is working and less of what isn't.
"The magic is in the work." Basketball and life are about skill and will. Let your work and effort define you.
Morse code, TTP (trust the process).
Trust the process. To trust you must know first. During medical training, we say, "see one, do one, teach one." When you don't know your assignment, you'll never complete it on time or on target.
Share something great. Communicate with teammates. Be a sharer. When you see something they're struggling with, support and suggest. "Have you thought about doing it this way?" If they're 'off' ask whether you can help them. Brad Stevens said of former player Ronald Nored, "He's so good at building relationships, being genuine, wanting to get to know you, wanting what's best for you that you really have no choice but to trust him and play as hard as you possibly can for him."
Become a legacy builder. How will people remember you? "Become more to do more; do more to become more." We remember first impressions. We remember a firm handshake. We remember eye contact. We remember people who care about each other. Rod Olson describes "speaking greatness."
None of these guidelines require you to be the biggest, the fastest, or the smartest tool in the toolbox. But their sum will help you to become your best. That's what professionals do.