Expert Advice

Back to all Blogs
18th October 2021

Habits of Champions

By Dr Scott Robinson, PhD MSc SENr

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit."

- Aristotle

At The Edge, we support Champions across the performance spectrum; from elite level athletes to busy executives and small family teams. 

It’s an incredible experience getting to know each client as a professional but also as a person. We would like to think that they have gleaned plenty from our expertise, but we have also learnt so much from them. 

Here we share a selection of habits that are, somewhat remarkably, consistent across the performers we support. We hope these insights will inspire and motivate you to unleash your very own 'Inner Champion'!

Unleash Your 'Inner Champion'

I firmly believe that becoming a ‘Champion’ isn’t limited to the sporting world. Everybody has the power to become a Champion in their own right and, ultimately, Champion their own life (what's your ‘Inner Champion’?).

Becoming a Champion is not something you accomplish once and then you’re done, it’s something you walk around with that embodies your overall life. It’s something that affects your work, your play, and your life. It’s a mindset and a process of coming into your own; continually learning, reflecting, adapting and improving along the way.

Champions bring out the best in others, but they also realise that unleashing their own ‘Inner Champion’ is a journey that’s unique to them. They find joy in helping others succeed but recognise that the most important things in life are internal, not external. What I mean by this is that Champions focus on where they stand relative to themselves, and not others (as difficult as that may sometimes be). They focus on what they are capable of now and how they can improve themselves.

Whilst they don’t ignore thoughtful opinions of others, they worry less about comparing their accomplishments to those of others. Instead, they have laser-like focus on how they can improve relative to who and where they are now.

Winning the wrong game is pointless. Play your own game and achieve your personal best.

Champions Think BIG

Champions possess a superb ability to build up a vision of where they want to be. They recognise the power that is in their own hands and, while they are realists, they are not limited by self-doubt. They remove barriers through hard-thinking (first) and smart action (second).

Champions Are Patient & Present

Champions understand that immediate (quick fix) results are often short lived and a poor investment in resources. A good example of this from a nutrition perspective would be starting a dietary regime that is restrictive and does little (or nothing) to educate, empower and benefit over the long-term.

99 times out of 100, the athlete may see quick results but they then end up back at square one because the approach simply isn’t sustainable and hasn’t taught them anything. Thus, a poor investment in time, energy and finances; often leading to continued confusion and frustration.

Instead, Champions appreciate that greatness is built over time. One key to their success is that they break down larger goals into smaller, bitesize increments. Each of their goals (for example, becoming a World Champion) might seem unsurmountable, however they make meaningful progress by identifying the smaller steps they should focus on.

Indeed, this tactic can be used by the rest of us, across all sorts of situations. You don’t have to have huge ambitions to leverage this approach.

Champions trust that if they are consistent with putting in the right work at the right time then winning is inevitable. The key is figuring out what is right for them so that they are clear about what to ignore and what to attack. They prioritise their goals and break them down into achievable milestones. 

They are present in the moment and let the future take care of itself. That’s not to say they don’t have a vision of where they would like to be - they do and they are clear of where they are aiming for - they just don’t look at the ending. Instead, they are locked in on the moment and give everything to it. They are present with themselves and with others (one of the greatest things you can offer someone, in my opinion). 

Champions leverage the compound effect: small but progressive steps toward improvement that profoundly and positively impacts their future self. They realise that success is achieved through considered preparation and patience. They view the preparation as more important than the competition itself and see failure as an opportunity to learn, adapt and grow. This is why Champions never truly ‘lose’.

Food for thought - 
“The amateur plays at the performance, the professional plays in-between the performance.”

Champions Are Remarkably Stable & Consistent

Champions are stable across much of what they do. They work hard on nailing the basics (the bigger bang for your buck 99%) and don’t get caught up in the final 1% until they have earned the right to do so. This is something you may have heard time and time again, but when it comes to a Champion Lifestyle, this is a critical foundation and I truly can’t emphasise it enough. After all, you wouldn’t add a cherry to the cake before baking the cake itself, would you? Make no mistake, they are suckers for detail, they just know which details reap the most reward. 

Let’s use an analogy to further highlight my point: Rocks (highest impact), Pebbles (moderate impact), Sand (lowest impact). 

Champions always focus on the big rocks first and the sand if opportunity allows. Sometimes this might mean them doing the less exciting parts on repeat (aka the stuff that doesn’t look quite so sexy on Instagram). Only when the rocks have been mastered do they then place time and energy into the pebbles and thereafter the sand. They don’t get caught up in hype or bold and brash marketing claims, they nail the big rocks well and consistently. They only transition to the pebbles once the rocks are stable. They only transition to the sand once the pebbles are stable.

Excellence Over Perfection

Champions are present in the moment but think to the future. They are masters at casting votes for their future selves. They do this by progressively building effective habits and incorporating them routinely. 

This accumulation of 'effective habits' means that going off piste from time to time (such as enjoying a piece of cake or eating out at their favourite restaurant), doesn’t ‘pollute’ their habit pool and undo all of their hard work. After all, athletes are humans too. 

Every athlete strives for the perfect performance, however in their preparation Champions strive for excellence over perfection. They realise that occassionally going off piste isn't always detrimental and can often serve a purpose. They don’t beat themselves up about this - Champions are kind to themselves - they think about their long-term game-plan and allow themselves a degree of flexibility.

A Champion fills the majority of their pool with effective habits (such as consuming nutrient-rich meals and keeping well hydrated on a daily basis), however they also allow for some flexibility along the way (zero guilt associated). This flexibility is absolutely key in enabling them to amass and sustain effective habits over the long-term.

A Game of Quarters

Champions play their day in quarters: 

  1. Morning
  2. Midday
  3. Afternoon
  4. Evening

This means that if one quarter doesn’t quite go to plan, they can still dominate the other three. This mindset greatly increases their chances of having an ‘effective day’ despite a minor set-back at any one point.

Champions appreciate that they won’t win every quarter, however they can win the majority, and this is what matters most.

They also appreciate that teams build greatness. The nucleus of their team is trust, expertise, integrity and communication. They bring others on their journey so that they can be empowered, and in the process they also empower the team. 

A Champion team rises together and supports each other toward a common goal, whether that be in sport, business or with family. 

Dr Scott Robinson, PhD MSc SENr

Scott is the Founder and MD of The Edge. He is Registered Nutritionist and holds a PhD in Exercise Nutrition and Physiology from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Scott's mission with The Edge is to change lives and livelihoods by empowering people to activate ‘champion’ nutritional habits that last a lifetime.

He is passionate about making a valuable and lasting impact on individuals, families, and society in general, by reframing the way people use nutritional information to transform daily routines & mindsets for the better.

Home of Champions.