Cheyenne Mountain Men's Basketball: Mental Toughness

The essay is written by John Celestand, an American professional basketball player. Celestand was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 30 overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, as a 6'4" shooting guard out of Villanova University. He was a member of the Lakers' 1999-2000 championship team, and has spent the past several years playing professionally in Italy, France and Germany. Celestand is currently living in New Jersey working as a personal basketball trainer and as a regular contributor to a basketball website,


Successful People

By John Celestand

Field Associate of World Leadership Group


The day you make the decision to be successful is a day in history for any human being. It is the most important day of your life. This is a day that is more important than a birthday, an anniversary and any other holiday that you can imagine. In fact, the day that you decide to become successful should be marked in your own calendar and celebrated annually.


Successful people think alike. They behave alike. They have the same habits. Similarly, unsuccessful people behave in a like manner. Success is not an accident, luck or a gift. Success is a mind frame. Money, material possessions and fame don't have anything to do with success. They are simply the results of the decision.

Any person could inherit millions of dollars and yet not be successful. We see time and time again when people hit the lottery and yet are still failures. All the money in the world cannot create a successful mind frame. Millions of dollars in the bank can't change a poor, unsuccessful mind frame. That can only be changed from within.


I was inspired to write this essay by a person who cancelled a meeting. I was having a string of cancellations at the last minute and pondered on why people were doing so. I was pondering what I could do to keep people showing up for appointments that they set and then I realized a profound answer. There was nothing I could do except exude success and hold them accountable.


Bottom line is this, SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SHOW UP!


We live in a world where everything is moving fast. Circumstances come up all the time. People have families and "things" to do. The difference with successful people is that they don't let those "things" stop them. People who have great success plan ahead and make sure that "things" don't take them away from activities that they have committed to, especially those activities which lead to greater success.


Once, I had a gentleman cancel thirty minutes before a meeting by sending me an email. The young man told me that he forgot that he had to take his mother to the airport. Of course, mother, the person who brought you into this world, always comes first. The issue is not there. The issue is that successful people don't forget about mom. Successful people for the most part are organized, bit if they aren't, they have someone organize their lives for them. Successful people don't forget about their son's soccer game, their daughter's graduation or the Bible study at the church.


Those who are successful, carve out "time to be successful." That is part of their week. Many times people tell me they don't have time to read during the week. Some of you won't have "time" to read this article. That is absurd! I have never heard anyone tell me they don't have time to eat during the week. Why starve the mind? The information and education that comes from reading can't be put on the back burner. This is one of the great crimes of humanity. If you are not dedicating yourself to learning and participating in some type of self-improvement every day of your life, then you are severely hampering your existence.


A great aspect about successful people is that you can depend on them. They don't talk, they get it done. You don't have to worry about excuses and why this stopped them or why that stopped them. If a successful person tells you that they are going to do something, you can bet your bottom dollar, nine times out of ten it gets done. They are great at keeping promises.


We have so many kids growing up today in single family households, some with no parents at all. Not to pick on the fathers, but we are usually bombarded by the stories about the dead beat Dads. It usually goes something like this, "Daddy said he is going to come by and pick you up?" Then later it goes "Sorry, Daddy said he can't make it today." You see the successful Dads find a way to be there. The successful dad finds a way to get to their kids no matter what, because they set examples. Successful parents support their kids. To borrow a line from the great Malcolm X, they do it by any means necessary.


What separates successful people from the rest of the pack is that they never do what everyone else is doing. I once read a quote that said "There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs." If one really analyzes that quote you can see how profound it really is. How many of you are taking the elevator at work every day? How many of you are looking for an elevator in life? Since I read that quote I haven't taken the elevator at my job in over a month. It's the easy way and many times not as efficient. Ponder this. Most times people are all waiting for the elevator. WAITING! It usually takes a while to come. Then they all stuff there way onto the elevator to go one or two flights of stairs because they don't want to work. Most times it takes longer anyway. Do you hear me? IT TAKES LONGER ANYWAY! The stairs are harder work, but there are always less people and you don't have to WAIT. A great motivational speaker by the name of Geoffrey Gittomer said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, you need to pause and reflect."


An interesting quote that I read in the book The 4-Hour Work Week read "Everything popular is wrong." Successful people make their own paths. They don't let fear or harder work stop them. It's common sense. If you do everything that everyone else is doing you are going to get the same results. More often than not, that is an ordinary life. Ordinary in America usually equates to just squeaking by. You are going to live just like the guy next door, and the guy across the street and the guy around the corner. Most people see that as a safe way for the family to live. I don't understand that thinking anymore.


Successful people don't worry about what other people think. I once told a group of grownups at a barbecue when I was 12 years old that I would play in the NBA. They laughed and told me that that was everyone's dream and I should pick something more realistic. Who defines what is realistic? The realistic ones were the ones asking my mother for tickets when the Lakers came to town. I once told a boss of mine that I wanted to be a commentator on ESPN. He told me that it would never happen. I didn't have enough experience. I quit that job and was doing games on ESPN Regional in less than a month after he told me that. There was nothing more satisfying than doing the commentating for a game at his Alma Mater Princeton University. He saw me at the scorer's table holding a microphone. I gave him a wink and yelled, "You guys are getting killed out there. Princeton needs more experience on the court."


When I got involved in World Leadership Group, I saw the potential financial capabilities that the company had. I knew that if I kept at it, I could make a lot of money and also help others attain the same. I recall telling people that I wanted to make enough money to be in the position to quit my job and do WLG full time. I had a few people tell me "Yo man, you shouldn't be going around telling people that. What if it doesn't happen?" That was always hilarious to me.


If you don't retain anything in this essay, retain this. Successful people set goals that they could possibly fail at! If you fail, then so what! If I have a goal, I am not afraid to voice it. If I want to make ten baskets in a row in a basketball shooting drill, I am not going to be afraid to say it. I am going to say "I'm gonna make ten in a row right here." If I make nine or I make five (I always at least make five) it doesn't matter. Successful people don't set meager goals that they know they can already do. What good is a goal if you know that it is easy to achieve? If you don't have to reach, then what is it doing for you? If it won't take you out of your comfort zone, then is it truly a good goal for you? Failure is a part of winning. It is a necessary piece of achievement. We are all professional failures. As odd as this may sound, failure is the key to success.


I had the pleasure of watching and guarding Kobe Bryant everyday in practice for a year with the Lakers. He would always try different moves in practice that never worked. I would always think "What is he doing? That will never work in the game." Sometimes I would even tell him, "Kobe, that ain't gonna work." He would simply chuckle. It was as if he already knew the things that I am speaking about in this essay. Time and time again he would amaze me, especially in crucial times of the game when he would do the exact same move that he was working on in practice. He would always look over to me after the executed move and wink. Every time I would doubt and every time he would prove me wrong.


The final thing that one must understand about success is that you don't have to already be there to feel accomplishment. All you have to do is be on your way. A great quote reads, "You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going." If you are marching to success then you are successful. If you have a vision and are taking steps toward that vision everyday then you are successful. You are only successful when you have no dreams and no vision. Then you are blind. When I say blind, I mean in the mental sense because even blind people can have a vision as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Helen Keller did.


Success is a mind frame. It's never easy or in clear view. Success hides in dark crevices, under rocks and around corners. Only those who dare, who have courage and once in a while, gaze off into the horizon, ever seem to find it.