Success, the Process and Character

We approach how we actually develop our young athletes in our residence program and development team by focusing on the process of development.   We want to win our races and achieve goals, of course, but a result at a given race won’t make someone a pro or elite rider.   It can open a door, but once there, you have to actually be that rider, athlete, and person.

We believe that the process of becoming the best you can be will provide you with success.  You can only be as good as you can be.   So, it takes making the effort to be the best that you can be to truly be successful.  That is irrespective of a race résumé or medal count or number of national team appearances.

An athlete can be a 20 time medal winner and not be successful if that athlete isn’t working to be the best that they can be.  Similarly, an athlete could finish out of the top 10 in every race in which they’ve competed, and they could be successful if they had done everything that they can do to perform the best of their ability.

It is our belief that with a basic talent level of ability (what you were born with), any athlete can make it to the elite ranks.   To what extent they can make it into the elite ranks and how long they can stay there is out of the scope of this discussion, but to make it to national and international competition and make an impact on those races is within the capability of practically everyone.  Nobody is born elite.

With that being said, to make the most of the opportunity provided here, we expect that an athlete is not simply striving to finish a certain place at nationals or internationally.   We expect the athlete to be pursuing success by the definition as provided by Coach John Wooden.

 Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

– Coach John Wooden

 To be successful, then, requires the athlete to make a commitment to himself.  That commitment is to set excuses aside and do whatever it is that he is capable of doing.

For some, training 10 hours per week is all that they are truly capable of doing.   So this athlete would need to make the most of those 10 hours.    Some athletes are capable of putting in more time.   Talent level affects how much one gets out of the training (assuming all else is equal, which isn’t always the case, of course) that one puts in, but that doesn’t preclude someone from doing the best that they can with what they have.   There are athletes who can train 20 hours per week and not get out of it what another can get by putting in 10 hours in the same week.   In order to be competitive, though, the former has to do what he can to be the best that he can be, irrespective of someone else.   What someone else has in terms of potential, capability, advantage, and opportunity does not affect, whatsoever, on another’s ability to be successful.

Success also requires a process to achieve it.    If success depends upon a process as well as doing the best you can through that process, it takes you being at your best at all times to make the most out of what you are capable of doing.   That requires that you have character.

 Character is the foundation upon which you develop.

– Brett Ledbetter (coach and director of Ledbetter Academy)


Character has two skill sets, Performance and Moral.   To make the most of the process, you need to have both sets of character skills.   Performance Skills, as it regards character, are the skills necessary to do the work required in practice, training, recovery, and competition.   Moral skills, then, are about how you apply those Performance Skills.   As you look over the chart below, recognize that you can, for example, work hard, but you have to honestly work as hard as you are able.  Otherwise you aren’t doing everything you can to get through the process.   As another example, you have to be accountable in terms of performance.  That is, you have to be able to demonstrate that you are doing the work and actually do it.   But saying you are doing the work, when you actually do not, then shows lacking in the moral skills of honesty and being trustworthy.  This will cause you to come up short of being successful, because you didn’t do everything in which you were capable.


 The Character skills are within the capacity of everyone to possess.   There are no skills, either Performance or Moral, that are out of the reach, no matter of inherent talent, financial situation, coaching availability, team selection, time available to train, where someone lives or any other circumstance conceivable.   Anyone can apply a full set of Performance and Moral Skills to their own process.

With all of these Skills possible, everyone has the potential to have the character to apply to the process of becoming successful.   If you do this, you will have the results.   Primarily, you will have the result that you are capable of achieving, but more than that is that you will have success that comes from the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve done everything that you are capable.

The beauty of understanding and applying the process is that it isn’t dependent or only applicable in cycling.  You can apply the Process to any sporting, academic, and any other area that requires work to achieve something.  In our development program, we apply this process from an individual standpoint of accountability, and then again in a team setting.   With the application of this process, we will not only be successful from a cycling standpoint, but an athlete in our program can then go on to apply this process to whatever it is that motivates them, whether it continues to be cycling, another sport, academics, or any other area of interest.

  Character drives everything.   A lack of it drives downward.  When you have a lot, it drives upward.  Character is the foundation upon which you win.

– Coach Mike Krzyzewski


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