Habits of a Champion

I think you’d agree that nobody becomes a champion by accident. So what does it takes to become a Leadership Champion?

Learn from Dana Cavalea, a former Director of Performance for the New York Yankees who is now a  high-performance speaker & consultant, as well as the author of Habits of a Champion: Nobody Becomes a Champion by Accident. He was recently featured over on the Leadership & Loyalty podcast, and I wanted to share some of the interview highlights here.

As a leader, how often do you consider the reality that you are a champion? You are!

The reality is, however, if you aren’t strategizing on how to be your best, you won’t remain a true leader, or champion, for long. Just like an athlete, a leader has to commit to doing what it takes to stay at the top of their game, because leadership is a champion’s game.

It’s not enough to get to the top, you’ve also got to find a way to stay there! 

What might happen to the level of your leadership and the quality of life if you had someone guiding you who could bring the same techniques, culture, attitude, service, first-class training, and development programs to you that pro-athletes utilize?  

I recently interviewed Dana Cavalea, and he had some amazing leadership insights to share.

For starters, Dana mentions that, as you might suspect, some of his first and greatest lessons came from his parents. As different as they were in their approach to life, they emphasized action, responsibility, and being a person of your word. He grew up understanding that there was nothing more important than doing what you said you would do.

As he grew up, Dana realized that even though anyone can be born with talent, not everyone becomes a champion.

The actions and efforts required to elevate yourself to the next level are absolutely key. People at the top have consistently done the necessary actions and put in the work in order to make it to where they are today…they didn’t arrive because of luck!  This often means working when the cameras are off, and doing what it takes when no one is looking.

Champion status is never achieved by accident!

Dana says: “Talent that doesn’t work shoots up…and crashes down.”

Talent that puts in the work can maintain top level performance and enjoy longevity in any industry.

Remember this: when you see an “overnight success”, you’re seeing one of two things:

A “shooting star” (talent that soared to the top and will quickly fade), or an “overnight success” that took years of hard work to achieve. Just because you didn’t see work and effort doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

In what might seem like a contradictory message, Dana went on to say: “You should also know: working longer and harder doesn’t cut it”. 

You need a plan, and you need to execute that plan with purpose.

When you do this, you don’t need to “come early and stay late”, but can rather use a proven method, execute it efficiently day in and day out, and see the results. Trust what’s right for you. Dana drilled home the importance of not trying to get too fancy, and of valuing both time and energy.

Dana continued, “While you’re planning to execute, you should also plan to rest.” Rather than chasing greatness, show up and execute, and trust that you’ll actually attract greatness.

If your goal is to become a champion, you must expect to put in the work, and you must have an actual strategy you are executing.

Going through the motions, always doing a “new thing” when you don’t have a foundation that works for you, and being “busy” without being productive will not lead to champion-level leadership. Don’t be tempted to let “being there” become the standard that’s guiding your day or your business. 

One strategy Dana shared is to build “landmarks” into your day. Create checkpoints and expectations that will keep you on track and guide your efforts. After all, if you put your nose to the grindstone and don’t look up till the end of the day, you’re likely just putting in the work with very little concept of actual success. That is not how champions are made!

Another habit of a champion is to value your physical body.

Don’t wait until you suffer an extreme health condition or ailment. Any kind of exercise will boost your energy level, your sense of self-value, and your confidence. Use physicality as a way to build your champion-level base and your overall mentality.

It may sound basic, but if you aren’t willing to take care of the basics, everything else falls apart. When you always keep your foot on the throttle, eventually you’ll run out of steam.

Look for ways to build rest, calm, and peace into your routines and systems.

Finally, remember to always be your own champion. Speak to yourself with vigor, and don’t be afraid to push your own ego out of the way as you stride towards the top.

The mic is yours: What are your thoughts on the Habits of a Champion?

Want to learn more from Dana? Listen in on his full podcast interview.

With gratitude,
Dov Baron, Expert on Leadership, presents his Authentic Leadership Matrix!

My Authentic Leadership Matrix is free this link! Why? Because one of the questions I’m most often asked is; What authentic leadership is and how do we define it? As a result, with years of experience and extensive requests, I created the Authentic Leadership Matrix. It’s designed to give you a clear process of how to perform in each of the five main areas that are required for you to become a world-class authentic leader. Start your yes and no evaluation to discover your leadership traits here: https://matrix.fullmontyleadership.com

Want to retain your top talent? Then my “Fiercely Loyal” book is for you! Plus get your free: “How to instantly bond any team” infographic.

Copyright: Dov Baron International© 2020


  • @TheDovBaron

    Inc Magazine top 100 leadership speaker, Inc #1 Podcast for Fortune 500 Executives, Entrepreneur Mag contributor, Leadership Strategist, Storyteller.

    Dov Baron

    Dov Baron is “The Dragonist”, guiding us in how to recognize and nurture dragons (the top talent) hidden in our organizations. A Dragon Leader is not a position; it’s someone who is always pushing to improve and wants those they serve to reach their full potential.   Dov’s humour and no-BS style is contagious. As a master storyteller, he is considered to be the leading authority on actualized leadership. Actualized leadership means getting the result you set out to achieve in the most meaningful manner.   Working with diverse leaders and executive teams, Dov filters common bonds to create Fiercely Loyal cultures. You can’t achieve loyalty without “meaning”, and talent only stays when they feel they are a part of something larger than themselves.    Besides being a bestselling author of One Red Thread and Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, Dov has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to Hire and as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus. He has spoken to the United Nations, The World Management Forum (Iran), The New York National Speakers Association, and The Servant Leadership Institute.    In June 1990, while free rock climbing, Dov fell approximately 120 feet and landed on his face. The impact shattered most of the bone structure of his face. After ten reconstructive surgeries, no external evidence remains; however, this experience wasn’t just life-changing, it was completely transformational. Dov shares how Dragons are born in fire. Experiences that could potentially destroy you can, instead, birth purpose, passion, and the hunger to champion others. We can learn to nurture the Dragon Fire in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our companies.    Dov believes the world needs more "Dragon Leaders" committed to living their purpose, standing in their truth, and empowering others to find their fire and do the same.