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  • Colin Jonov

Engineering Fortitude: Preparing For the NFL

I have the privilege of working with numerous professional athletes in a variety of ways. However, for the last three years, I have had the opportunity to help train defensive backs for their pro-day through Grossetti Performance, for 8–10 weeks each year. Man, there’s just something special about working with guys as they prepare for the biggest job interview of their life. And make no mistake about it, this opportunity for these guys is enormous. I’ve been in their shoes, lived that life, and can relate in every way imaginable to what they are going through. Being a small part of their journey gives me massive joy.

Now, I have the benefit of speaking tonight. I’ll be addressing all of the athletes in the program about my role at Athletic Fortitude. Sometimes it’s easier to speak from our hearts, other times it’s easier to write from them. To be honest, I am struggling a little bit with both right now. How can I, in 30 minutes, give as much impactful information as possible? How can I give them something that won’t wear off once they leave the room? Well, I am going to attempt both writing and speaking. So for the athletes that read and listen to this, I’m sorry but it’s going to be a lot of the same. Here’s my attempt at writing:

In the world, there are 3,194 billionaires. In the world, there are 1,696 NFL players. Take that in for a moment. That’s what we are trying to accomplish here. So first of all, don’t take that for granted. What we are trying to accomplish here is near impossible. That’s what we are working towards, the impossible. Remember, too, that’s just to be on an NFL roster. That’s not a starter, or Pro Bowl, or All-Pro. There are levels to this. So my first question to you all is, what makes the difference? Ultimately, it’s the guys that handle adversity the best that’ll persevere. It’s the guys with the most resilience and tenacity that’ll figure it out. One thing I can guarantee all of you is at one point you’ll be cut, you’ll lose a position battle, you’ll be injured, and most likely, a lot of you will be looked in the eyes and told “you’re not good enough.” So it starts with how serious are you about this? What is your vision? Where in this game do you want to land? What are you willing to commit to? Each level you raise your game comes with a whole other level of commitment. The next question becomes, how do I increase my tenacity and resilience? That’s where the fun comes in for me:

Resilience and tenacity come down to two things: Your identity and your ability to do things you hate to do and do them like you love them. Let’s tackle the identity piece first. Like I said earlier, you are going to get cut or hurt. This game is unpredictable. However, the piece I left out is eventually this game will leave you, forever. Your time in this game isn’t eternal. It was here way before you and it’ll be here way after you. So who are you? Are you just a football player? The answer is no, none of you are just football players. You’re a son, a brother, and maybe some of you fathers. But let’s dig deeper than that. Who are you really? How deep do you go? What do your actions say about your character and values? Are you the hardest worker in the room? Are you a kind person? Are you someone who cares deeply about the things you dedicate your time towards? What about you can be defined and never be taken away? That’s what we need to unpack. That’s the identity we need to engineer. If I picked you up from this universe and dropped you into another, what would your defining characteristics still be? That will be what allows you to excel in this game. More importantly, that’s what’ll enable you to truly live outside of this game when the game fails you.

Now, doing hard sh*t comes with the territory of this game, man. Just showing up to the gym is hard. But how do we elevate it to the next level? Now, I just interviewed Dr. Bhrett McCabe, Alabama’s Director of Performance Psychology, and he had this saying that I loved: if you have a vision, that vision will lead to a plan, that plan will lead to confidence, and that confidence will lead to belief. But what does that vision and plan look like? What’s your confidence level when you’re about to run that 40-yard dash when you aren’t feeling your best or your legs feel heavy? What’s your process for working through that? We get obsessed with this concept of feeling “our best.” Guys, our “best” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can only experience your best once. The focus should be to raise our standard. Then, even on our worst days, it’s still better than everyone else’s “best.” So, when we are training, when we are working on our mindset, stop practicing for predictability when sports are none of such. Embrace the unpredictable nature of sport and performance, and simply bring your best for that day, whatever level it is, bring everything you have for that day and do that every single day. You build the capability to do that from doing the things you don’t want to do. That comes from cold plunges, sauna, eating healthy, sleeping properly, visualizing, choosing gratitude, not skipping reps. It comes from avoiding things you want to do but know are bad for you. It takes what it takes, and we have the ability to control that. To rid ourselves of weakness, we must be willing to fight that weakness every single day. Then, when we look back, we will have an undeniable stack of proof we are who we are.

Man, this game will punch you in the face. It’ll beat you down. I’m here to help you engineer the fortitude to fight back.

To Building Fortitude.

Warm regards,

Colin Jonov CEO & Founder, Athletic Fortitude

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