The 6 elements of a champion

There was a time when I dreamed of winning an Olympic Gold Medal.

I guess I have to settle for being the coach, father, and ogre of the gold-medal winner for golf this year. Now that I think about it, maybe we should keep the medal at my house part of the time.

After all, it takes a team to win. It might also take a team to keep that medal looking all shiny and new.

For a few years now, our team has been working with Hyland. So even though I’m having a little fun, maybe it’s time for me to share the elements that have helped our team reach an elite level. Maybe it’s a good time to share what I think are six ways you as an individual can be a champion on a team that wins the gold.

After all, who doesn’t want to be on a team full of all stars?

Becoming a champion

In order to maintain our competitive edge on the PGA TOUR —and win Olympic gold — our team constantly needs to do things just a little bit better. Over the years, I’ve found that categorizing the following elements has helped Xander compartmentalize certain aspects that we always need to work on.

Let’s take a look at these elements in detail, to see how you can use them to get to the next level.

1. Skill

At the end of the day, skill is the overriding factor. No matter who you are or what you do, you have to be intimately familiar with the fundamentals, work hard on them, and excel at them. Only after that can you add your own personal twists — the things that make you as an individual stand out as a champion.

For example, when the world of golf thinks about Xander Schauffele, it thinks “California cool under pressure.” But how do you stay calm when a single shot can win or lose the big trophy or shiny gold medal?

A lot of it is preparation, both individually and as a team. As I said, it takes a team to be a successful professional golfer. On our team, everyone has a certain function with corresponding skill sets that — when taken altogether — enables Xander to be properly prepared and play at his highest level. To be Mr. California Cool.

The same goes for business. True, a single salesperson may “close the deal,” like Xander clinching with a beautiful putt on 18. But like my friends at Hyland tell me, these days, customers have done all their research and are prepared to negotiate before they ever contact a vendor.

That’s why the team behind the person out there in public is so crucial. After all, winners never walk alone.

2. Mental strength

Unlike physical strength, for the most part, you can improve your mental strength for your entire life. That’s why I put mental strength before physical strength. And a great thing is, there are all sorts of apps and such that can help you improve your mental strength.

For a great example of mental strength, in Tokyo, Xander had a tremendous amount of pressure on him. He really wanted this win so we could celebrate it in Japan, where his mother lived for many years. And it all came down to the wire.

“When the last group walked onto the 18th green,” pgatour.com noted, “nine players remained in the mix for a medal.”

That’s when your training and mental strength kicks in. And as I’ve always said, the team we’ve put together over the years is so strong, it allows Xander to forget about everything but winning. And he likes to win. A lot.

I hate losing.”

– My son

But that’s probably true for almost everyone, right? That’s why, when we’re all lining up to take our shots, we need to forget about the noise of the world, relax, and focus.

3. Physical strength

In the last year, Xander has gained three miles-per-hour on his clubhead speed. He’s suddenly become stronger and faster. At first, we were amazed, but then we remembered all the core strength work we did when the PGA paused the TOUR for safety concerns.

Xander also turned 27, so he’s really grown into his body. His shoulders are even broader.

All this relates perfectly to the business world. As an individual, you should continue training and learning while doing your job, so you’re always working on your core muscles. But the place where all that comes together is when your team is doing the same thing. Together, your shoulders grow broader.

Together, you’re stronger and faster.

4. Passion

Passion is something everyone needs in life. I think it’s easier to have passion when you’re winning, but it’s more important to have passion when you’re just starting out, trying to get to the next level, or even if you’re a pro who might be struggling a bit.

“I don’t play golf for money or medals,” Xander recently told pgatour.com. “I play to be competitive and I want to beat everyone.”

That’s passion, right there. As his coach, I don’t need to worry about motivating him, just keeping him on task. That gives me more time to focus on dark chocolate, so I stay at my top level.

It’s true that we all have to work for a living. But to be successful, we need to find a way to be passionate about what we do. So, if a reporter asked, “Why do you do what you do?” what would you say?

5. Talent

Even though “skill” is my No. 1 element, talent plays a role as well. And it ties directly into No. 6, luck.

As you probably know, you’re born with talent. You have to earn skill. Xander was lucky enough to be born with talent. And when you add incredible passion to talent, you get great results.

That’s why we constantly work on all six of these elements. When you combine them, you reach your full potential.

But there’s a hidden trick to talent, and that’s focus. When you get to a certain level as an athlete, or any profession, it becomes a question of what you want to focus on.

In Xander’s case, he was an excellent soccer player. But around 12 years old, his passion for the game began to disappear. He loved the team aspect, but he wanted to be more in control of his own destiny.

The next day, I said, “Let’s get you on the PGA TOUR.”

6. Luck

I hate to say it, but luck does play an element in life. But, and I’m not the first person to point this out, winners are prepared to take advantage of luck. They also tend to create it for themselves, mostly through the five elements I mention above.

So the big question is this: How do you influence luck?

Our team believes it comes from a complete view of Xander’s game. Our team needs to know and see every detail of every course, every spin on every ball, and how every muscle moves when Xander swings. We use data in everything we do, all the way down to the specifics of decision making, especially as it pertains to club choice for each particular shot.

“The ability to make decisions based on data makes me more connected to my game,” Xander once said. “The end result of all that analysis begins with more confidence choosing a club and ends with a better swing.”

The same goes for business. You need a complete view of the course you play on, and analysis of how well your team is performing on each shot. When you find issues, you need to look at them under a microscope, from all sides, to resolve them efficiently. All that is impossible without a team, because of the multiple skill sets you need to make that view truly 360 degrees.

Going for your own gold

I was lucky enough to see my Olympic dream fulfilled through my son.

The hug he gave me on the back of the green after he dropped that final putt for the gold was incredibly special. I can’t say enough about it.

I just hope everyone gets to experience something like that once in their lives, whether it’s with a loved one or a teammate at work. Because it’s so much more special when you get there together.

Stefan Schauffele

Stefan Schauffele was born in Stuttgart, Germany. He is swing and mental coach for his son, Xander, who is currently ranked as the No. 9 professional golfer in the world.

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