Jeter is adept at reducing the clutter that often engulfs players, especially perennial All- Stars who play in major markets like New York. He is a master at keeping things simple in his world. He is strong-willed enough to disregard things that do not concern him or to wait to address them until they do concern him.
Tiger Woods has it. Derek Jeter has it. ARod just found it. And it's the reason they're winners. "It" is mental toughness and the ability it gives them to focus on the task at hand. To prevent the noise and distractions around them from getting in their head. To simplify and execute, again and again, what they're capable of doing.
It, not their raw physical skills, is why I watch, often with chills of wonderment, their exploits. Believe me, it's easy to allow thoughts (of doubt, consequence, worry, anticipation…) to enter your head when you're standing over that big putt. I know. It's hard to shut them out, completely. Tiger does that.
A few games ago, I sent a text message to a close friend and fellow Yankee fan, that the Yankees "…have 'The Look'." What I meant was that the entire team had started to carry itself like Jeter. Quiet, focused, confident and in the moment, like there was no place else in the world that they belonged.
Mental toughness and the ability to focus pays dividends in business as well as sport:
It gives you the ability to concentrate on what's really important amidst the clutter.
It gives you the ability to do the right thing when temptations to take shortcuts present themselves.
It gives you the ability handle that difficult conversation with calm, professionalism and even grace.
It fuels the perseverance required to push through difficult times.
It provides confidence in your ability to handle extreme challenges
It is contagious.
One of my mentors, Ray Martino, a tremendously effective president at Symbol, had it. He used to stress that at any particular point of time, only about three things in our business really mattered. "Focus on those, get them right, and the rest will be OK." He also regularly explained that sometimes it's not worth worrying about a decision until it needed to be made. "Don't clutter your head with things that just might take care of themselves." When it was time to make that decision however, Ray made it firmly and with confidence. Ray had mental toughness, and was a winner.
Do you have the mental toughness to play on the big stage? To win?