THE BLOG
05/17/2013 03:23 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2013

The Hidden Secret to David Beckham's Success: Mental Toughness!

David Beckham, the great English footballer, announced his retirement Thursday. Sports fan or not, when someone at the world-class level of David Beckham says he's stepping away, people take notice and reflect back on the great achievements of his career.

Just a few of Beckham's great accomplishments:

  • FIFA World Player of the Year runner up twice in his career.
  • First British footballer to play 100 Champions League matches.
  • First Englishman to win league titles in four different countries.
  • First English player to score at three World Cups.
  • Has the joint-second most goal assists in European Championship finals history.

The list goes on and on. What you won't see listed on David Beckham's resume is his great mental toughness. Athletes and other world-class performers all have a set of characteristics that set them apart from everyone else. If you look closely at great champions like David Beckham, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and even those outside of sports like Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, there are many reasons why they are so far ahead of their competition.

Champions are obsessed with productivity and results

Former manager Alex Ferguson often said that Beckham practiced with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn't care about.

Average performers think of work in terms of time invested on the job. World-class performers like David Beckham think of work in terms of overall productivity, output and results. They're always focused on being more successful and getting better than their last victory or accomplishment. In fact, many of the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover. Everyone has the intelligence, talent and ability to go pro, but they usually lack the will.

The world class builds on support

In his retirement announcement, Beckham said, "I wouldn't have achieved what I have done today without my family. I'm grateful for my parents' sacrifice, which made me realise my dreams. I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period. I'm thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level."

While many amateurs believe it's them against the world, professionals rely on their emotional support teams to help them sustain focus through the peaks and valleys of performance. Their support teams are made up of people who love them unconditionally, no matter whether they are winning or losing. Champions use mentor teams and coaches to push them to greater heights, and support teams to help them recover emotionally when the going gets tough and they become emotionally drained.

Even the toughest performers in the world like David Beckham need emotional support from time to time, and they tap this resource on a regular basis to avoid the worst enemy of any great performer: burnout. To avoid burnout, the great ones spend time with their families, friends, and other support team members that help them recover before it occurs. The support team serves as the champion's physical, mental and spiritual oasis on their way to the top.

Champions like David Beckham are not addicted to the approval of others

If you're familiar with David Beckham's career, you know there were times that he wasn't popular with the masses and his conduct on the field was called out by the referees on many occasions. Beckham was the first English player ever to collect two red cards and the first English captain to be sent off.

There was one incident when a group of English supporters taunted him throughout a match, and he responded by raising his middle finger.

Right or wrong, David Beckham did what he wanted even if it wasn't popular with fans and players. He didn't value other's opinions over his own, better known as approval addiction - and this was a huge part of his success because he was free from the psychological chains that keep most people from every experiencing world-class success. Many psychologist call approval addiction the worst addiction of all because it's conformity at all costs. Do what you want and follow your own path, no matter what people say.

There's a champion performer inside all of us. Make the decision today to get into the great game of life and elevate your play to the level of the world-class. If you want to experience the success of a David Beckham, stop operating from delusion and start living from objective reality. In other words, the great ones' habits, actions and behaviors are totally congruent with the size and scope of their ultimate vision. That's why we call them champions.