OSU grapplers have what it takes…

Study history and you will see lots of stressors not unlike today. Life has always been hard. Fact. Way back in the day, the ancient Spartans built a team that embodied the opposite of fragility. The Spartans were anything but fragile as Nassim Taleb, author of the book titled Antifragile would accurately describe. Spartan antifragility was built in the agog. The young Spartan boy from age 7-18 was built into a warrior. Tons of training, drills, routines, and battlefield like fight simulators turned boys into men. In the agog, these young Warriors were taught mental toughness. The leaders applied pressure and taught their young how to stand. Here’s another lesson from the “hot gates” and Steven Pressfield. The Spartan way, if you will, to strong mental habits. I’m not suggesting you try this one on your team – start by trying to apply this lesson to yourself!

“The Peers in their messes are encouraged, when they deem it useful for the instruction of youth, to single out one lad, or even another Peer, and abuse him verbally in the most stern and pitiless fashion. This is called arosis, harrowing. It’s purpose, much like the physical beatings, is to inure the senses to insult, to harden the will against responding with rage and fear, the twin unmanning evils of which that state called katalepsis, possesssion, is comprised. The prized response, the one the Peers look for, is humor. Deflect defamation with a joke, the coarser the better. Laugh in its face. A mind which can maintain its lightness will not come undone in war.”

Mental toughness is built through stress. Do not buy the modern mantra. Leaders are not here to relieve pressure. Never have been. Leaders are here to help the system transmit the tension to its rightful owner. Real. Hard. Work. Good…

The ancient and modern day elite builder does not simply apply pressure. Sometimes they apply, sometimes they relieve. The aim is always to move the tension to its rightful owner. The aim, leader, is to love your team and love your work. Sometimes you help them laugh, sometimes you load ‘em up. Sometimes you lighten up, sometimes you break them down. No easy answers. Feel free, leader, to help your team relieve anxiety, a sense of overwhelm, and a fear of anything. Stress, however, is good. Stress is defined as a challenge necessary for growth. Pressure is good – finding the right amount, from the right sources, for the right person, at the right time, is the magic of good coaching. Without pressure the performer will not peak. “Our chief want in life is someone who will make us do what we can.” Thank you, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Anxiety reliever is a good aim, leader. Sometimes you’re gonna apply more pressure, however, to achieve the aim. Leading anything is hard, friend. Stop looking for easy answers, they don’t exist. Love your team and love your work. Give them whatever it takes to bring out their best. Today, during practice 68 with a team of grapplers heading to the NCAA championship, we’re going to laugh, love, and remind them that they have what it takes. And we’ll remind them that nothing worth possessing has ever been given. They’re going to learn a little American history about John Paul Jones and our fight for independence. They’re going to be challenged to meet their opponent on the open seas, if you will. And, as John reminds us (he too studied the Ancient Spartans), these grapplers have nothing guaranteed – “It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.”

Go get ‘em, OSU grapplers. Use the pressure to bring your performance to it’s edge. Trust your training and be on your toes. When the moment is right, trust your mind too – take the risk. You have what it takes…

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