The following is a post by our longtime friend, Nico Ball. There's a short bio after the article and you can also keep track of her on her own blog.
Many want the status of being a “fighter,” but few are willing to put in the required work to truly deserve it. When push comes to shove, psychological, not physical, development will separate the women from the girls. It’s tenacity and discipline that defines the proverbial cream of the crop.
Tenacity will drive you to embrace the suffering that comes with hard work and life’s hard times. Discipline will allow you to hold fast to your beliefs, to your dreams, and to your goals even when others question you. It is both tenacity and discipline that form the commitment that separates serious athletes from the recreational enthusiast. If you let hardships in life kick your ass before you even get to the gym, what’s going to happen when you step into the ring?
"All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose."
– John William Gardner
To achieve your goals, to ascend to the champion status, you have to do what others won’t. Simply showing up and looking good in training isn’t the same as grinding your body to its limits (and then beyond). That’s where tenacity comes into play. Success begins with your mind. It’s only through tenacious and disciplined efforts that you are able to exceed any physical and psychological limits and elevate you to your full potential. Disciplined athletes embrace the grind. They learn to shed the shackles of inner doubt, developing instead the mental discipline to block out work, school, and all of the other everyday concerns that constantly assail our psyche.
Excuses come wholesale. They are easy to fabricate and even easier to convince yourself of. Stressful careers, difficult relationships, tragic losses, and absorbing social media inundate our everyday lives and often distract us from our goals. Assigning blame is an easy way to avoid responsibility, but it also impedes growth. Champions don’t make excuses, they find a way.
Lack of time is rarely the cause of failure, but lacking tenacity and discipline usually are. Having strength enough to grit your teeth and face daily hardships is what separates the relentless from the rest. Self-pity is a symptom of mediocrity and usually attitude will determine the outcome.
If you want to be a stronger fighter, you need to develop a stronger mind. One’s actions, both inside and outside of the gym, create results. Top athletes can minimize distractions and maximize their time spent at the gym. When you’re training, are you thinking about your technique or your text messages? Are you focused on the task at hand or thinking about whether McDonalds is an acceptable post-workout meal?
"Success, in general, is all about sacrifice"
– Mike Tyson
Pros understand that real training means committing oneself to the present process, not just future outcome. They make personal sacrifices in expectation of personal glory. If you have the tenacity and discipline to dedicate all of your resources towards a desired goal, you will inevitably reap the rewards of a stronger will, a better body, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
Nico Ball recently left her life as a teacher to train mixed martial arts full-time in Brazil. Originally from Pennsylvania, she attended George Mason University in Virginia and received her Masters degree studying the impact of martial arts-based social projects. She’s now living the fighter’s life and pursuing her dream to become a pro mixed martial artist.
Additionally, Nico has found a way to continue her interest in creating social change by helping organize The Tererê Kids Project, a nonprofit for the children living in poverty in the favela of Morro do Contagalo. You can keep up with Nico through her blog as she trains and competes in MMA, Muay Thai, and Boxing alongside one of the world's fastest growing female fight teams, Parana Vale Tudo (PRVT).