“Training Camp”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading some books by Jon Gordon. I’ve enjoyed them all, but I think my favorite so far is Training Camp. I read it awhile back, but it’s especially appropriate now as NFL teams begin training camps this week!

Training Camp is an inspirational fable that follows the story of Martin Jones, an un-drafted rookie trying to make it in the NFL. Along the way, he encounters adversity through an ankle injury during preseason. With the help of a coach named Ken, Jones learns eleven life-changing lessons. The lessons, which are based on Gordon’s work with great teams and organizations, are valuable and applicable no matter your vocation in life!

Here are some of my favorite takeaways

After Martin’s injury following a great performance in his first preseason game, a trainer named Gus tries to convince Martin there’s an upside to injuries. He says, “they slow you down mentally so you can think more clearly.” He talks to Martin about the importance of mental toughness. He says …

… it’s not ability that separates those who make it from those who don’t. It’s sustainability. And sustainability has as much to do with mental preparation as it does physical.

As Martin rehabilitates his ankle, a coach named Ken becomes his mentor. He begins by talking about greatness. Greatness, he says, takes more than desire. He says, “everyone says they want to be great, but very few are willing to pay the price.”

And it takes more than talent.

People think it’s all about talent. But talent isn’t enough anymore. Everyone here has talent. It’s about infusing talent with heart, soul, spirit, and passion.

One of Ken’s lessons is, “The best want it more. ” He tells Martin, “The best don’t just think about their desire for greatness, they act on it. … The best are never satisfied with where they are.”

On a similar note, another lesson is, “The best are always striving to get better.”

The best are always looking for ways to learn, apply, improve, and grow. They are humble and hungry. They are lifelong learners. … You are either getting better or worse but never staying the same.

As you might expect, the coach is big on preparation. He talks about the “Game-Day Principle” …

Five percent of a person’s life is made up of our performance on game day, while 95 percent is made up of the time we are preparing, practicing, and waiting to perform. … The fact is, how we practice and prepare with 95 percent of our time determines how we perform on game day.

When it comes to preparation, “Success is all about the little things.” Ken notes, using a baseball analogy, “the difference between a 250 batter and a 350 batter is only 1.7 hits per week. It’s the little things that separate the best from the rest.”

Toward the end of training camp, Coach Ken talks to young Martin about the importance of leaving a legacy. He tells Martin …

You were made for a purpose and you were created to strive for greatness. But remember that you were made to become great in order to benefit the greater good, not yourself. God blesses us not for our own good but because God blesses through us to bless others. … The success you create now is temporary, but the legacy you leave is eternal.

I appreciate this addition. You could interpret some of the earlier lessons about being the best to mean being better than others. Coach Ken now recasts greatness. He says …

… being the best really wasn’t about being better than anyone else but about striving to be the best you could be and bringing out the best in others.

I found Training Camp to be a quick, enjoyable read. It probably helps if you like football, but either way, the lessons apply!

(Edited to say that I actually blogged about this book previously. Oops).

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