I recently came across an amazing story about Jim Thorpe; take a look at this picture captured of Jim Thorpe during the 1912 Olympics — particularly his shoes.
Here is the story behind this picture*…
At the outset of the 1912 Olympics in Sweden, local hero Hugo Weislander was the heavy favorite to win the decathlon. Thorpe, however, easily defeated Wieslander by more than 700 points. Thorpe placed in the top four in all ten events, and his Olympic record of 8,413 points would stand for nearly two decades.
What is truly incredible is that Thorpe’s sneakers went missing before the final event of the three-day competition. Thorpe’s only option was to scrummage through the trash to find a single shoe too small, then borrow a shoe which was so over-sized he had to wear extra socks for his foot to fit. With his mismatched pair of shoes, he went on to win the 1,500 meters in 4 minutes and 40.1 seconds — a time that a gold medalist decathlete wouldn’t beat until Mykola Avilov ran a 04:22 at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
Here is the point — winners overcome adversity, make no excuses, and find a way win.
Coaches, if you want to foster that same mindset in your athletes then repeatedly expose them to adversity until they are comfortable doing whatever it takes to perform as a team. Ruthlessly eliminate excuses from their vocabulary. Championship teams never give in to adversity or give up on each other….become that team.
*Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete, Robert Wheeler, 1981