New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Maria Sharapova, Katrín Davíðsdóttir, Michelle Waterson, Sasha DiGiulian, Brooke Ence, The Bella Twins, Emily Skye, Danica Patrick

What It Takes To Be a Champion


What does it take to be a champion?

You have to love what you do.

You have to care about the little details that other people let slide.

And you have to have deep, unshakable confidence.

A lot of what separates a player from a champion is mental. We can’t ignore the importance of keeping our mind away from the negative and focused on the end goal.

On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I’m sharing the most inspirational clips of interviews with the world’s greatest female athletes: Maria Sharapova, Katrin Tanja Davíðsdóttir, Michelle Waterson, Sasha Digiulian, Brooke Ence, The Bella twins, Emily Skye, and Danica Patrick.

“You can’t just show up. You have to show up and compete.” @Maria Sharapova  

Maria Sharapova is one of the world’s greatest tennis players, Katrin Tanja Davíðsdóttir is a two-time champion of the CrossFit Games, Michelle Waterson is a mixed martial artist who competes in the UFC, Sasha Digiulian is a world champion climber, Brooke Ence is an elite CrossFit Champion, The Bella Twins are former WWE Wrestlers, Emily Skye is a top fitness model, and Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing.

We can all get distracted by self-doubt, comparing ourselves to others, and focusing on the wrong things.

But we can train ourselves to have the mindset of a champion.


It feels good to be great at what you do. Get ready to learn step into your greatness on Episode 803.

“There’s often a solution, you just have to open your mind up to different possibilities.” @Sasha Digiulian  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Why are you so driven to be the best? (7:00)
  • What does it mean to be respectful of your opponent? (16:30)
  • How do you stay focused when you’re scared? (18:57)
  • What are some tools you use when you start comparing yourself? (30:00)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The difference between “showing up” and “playing” (6:00)
  • The reason you need to focus on the things you can control (12:00)
  • Why not doing your best is doing a disservice to your opponent (18:00)
  • How trust can heal anxiety (20:00)
  • How to not let negative comments affect you (27:00)
  • Plus much more…

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis: This is episode number 803 with what it takes to be a champion. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes, a former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today now let the class begin.

Mia Ham said “True champions aren’t always the ones that win but those with the most guts.”

Today we have an incredible episode with the greatest female athletes and champions to share their wisdom on how to be a champion in your life or anything that you’re working towards. And you’ve heard of these women before people like Maria Sharapova whose world class tennis player, 5-time grand slam champion. She’s a medalist in women’s singles at the 2012 summer Olympics in London, model, author, entrepreneur, and a powerhouse.

We’ve got Katrin DavidsDottir who’s a legend in the fitness and cross-fit world. A cross-fit champion, the fittest woman on earth in 2015 and 16, inspiration to so many people.

Michelle Waterson MMA fighter and UFC. Ranks in the top of the UFC [?] and one of the best fighters in the world.

Sasha Digiulian is a champion rock climber who has won the world championships for female overall. Is a 3-time U.S national champion such a powerhouse.

We’ve got Brooke Ence a cross-fit athlete as well, entrepreneur, social media, fitness icon.

The Bella twins Nikki and Brie Bella. WWE superstars and former diva champions having debut as a wrestling tag team in 2007. Massive social media following, brand and reality show and so much more.

Emily Skye who is a health and fitness expert with over 14 million women worldwide having help transformed their lives with signature workouts, [?] and 24/7 support.

And Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open real racing. She’s broken barriers and set records and her victory in 2008 Indy, Japan 300 is the only win ever by a woman in the Indy car series race. She is Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list, she’s got her own clothing line, entrepreneur and inspiration.

In this interview we talked about being good enough and great enough. Powerful advice from all these superstar athletes and coaches. The lessons behind respecting your opponents and losing. Why negativity won’t get you anywhere. Stepping into your greatness by being okay with being yourself. Why learning the hard is sometimes the best way.

Top tools on getting over insecurities. How to condition your mind against extreme pressure and so much more. I am so excited about this make sure to share with your friends. Text a friend on what it takes to be a champion and lessons from some of the world’s greatest athletes.

A big thank you to our sponsor design crowd. Now, design crowd has been my service that I go to for all design with website stuff, book cover when coming out with a new book, with t-shirts, logos, with graphics and social media and stuff. Any type of design that you need you can get all your personal design needs at They’ve got hundreds of thousands of designers from all over the world that will create designs for you, all you have to do is fill out a form of what you’re looking for whether it’s a logo or a website or t-shirt graphic or whatever it may be, you submit what you’re looking for you give the details of what it is that’s inspiring you for this and designers will start creating branding for you. You can get feedback on them and then when you want to pick a winner you choose one of them and then you just pay that. And right now you can go to for a special $100 VIP offer for our listeners. Again, design is the key to differentiate yourself in your space, in your industry check it out right now at

And also we are getting close if you haven’t got your tickets yet make sure to go to we’re going to be announcing speakers very soon. We’ve got Maria Sharapova in there a couple of years ago who is in this interview. And we’ve got some inspiring speakers who will be there this year. Make sure to get your tickets at before the price goes up.

Without further ado let’s dive in this episode on what it takes to be a champion.

Maria: It’s funny a lot of people ask me where, because one of my greatest strengths is that I come on the court and I feel that I have a mental edge against my opponents.

Lewis: You do?

Maria: I do.

Lewis: Why do you think that?

Maria: I just do.

Lewis: What does the mental edge mean?

Maria: I don’t want to use the word smarter I think there are a lot of, in order to be a professional athlete and to be on top of your game you have to be pretty smart, you have to be talented a hard worker. There’s no one that doesn’t want to work harder.

Lewis: What’s the edge then?

Maria: I want to win and I hate to lose and I don’t like giving up. I think there’s a difference between showing up and playing you know, because we have a lot of different tournaments. We have grand slams which obviously is the biggest tournament and then you have tournaments that are somewhere in Europe or in the middle of Asia that are smaller tournaments. But you can’t just show up you have to show up and compete. I don’t believe in just showing up, I’m not quite sure that mantra has never worked for me.

Lewis: Right.

Maria: Especially in my profession just by showing up doesn’t get me anything.

Lewis: How are you so driven to win and strive to be the best still?

Maria: Because I love sport, I love the feeling. I think also selfishly as a woman it’s a really good to feel good at what you do, to feel strong and powerful and just good at it, and know that there’s by working on it that you can be better. There’s nothing else to feel that, you know I love doing other things but when I’m on a court and even when I’m rusty or even when I don’t get the ball just a lot of times. You know I eat a lot.

Lewis: So do I.

Maria: I love the feeling of getting better I love that challenge and there’s nothing winning, I mean winning in tennis is for the moment it’s not like that final point and that emotion that you don’t get with anything else. I guess your success is in your own hands, it’s not in the hands of anyone else. You know like you have a team and that helps you get to walk center court and then you walk out there but then it’s you. If you lose or win.

Lewis: It’s on you.

Maria: Yeah. I love that pressure.

Lewis: You can’t get that anywhere else. Do you have any regrets for your career of like starting too soon or not going to school or relationships? Is there any regrets along the way?

Maria: The one thing I do regret is not learning more languages when I was young.

Lewis: How many do you know now?

Maria: 2 Russian and English but I wish that I’ve learned more languages. You pick them up so well when you are young and especially in today’s growing, just growing society and the world it would be really great to know more languages. That’s one thing.

As far as other things in my career, I think when you talk about a career and relationships and regret I think people, you talk about balance a lot that kind of strive for balance.

Lewis: How do you do that?

Maria: I don’t because there’s no balance. I don’t think balance exists I don’t think there’s ever 50/50, I think if you’re 50/50 then you’re 50% at one thing and 50% at another thing. It can be good enough, I know a lot of people that do it and that’s their good enough, it’s what they want and it has just never worked for me I never feel fulfilled, I don’t think I’m getting the most out of myself when I’m 50/50.

Lewis: What do you think it takes to be the best in the world?

Katrin: Everything you got. If you’re not giving it everything that you have, I always thinks this I remember, everyone likes balance like talking about balance and I always felt very conflicted because that’s not what I wanted and I remember Ben was having a presentation once and it’s the first time I heard anyone say ‘champions don’t have balance’ and I was like ‘he’s right.’ It’s not right or wrong for most people it’s probably the right thing to have balance but if you want to be the best in the world at something you just can’t, because if you are spending your time on something other than your craft or something other that’s not gonna make you better, someone else is spending their time on getting better and I always think that someone else is gonna be spending their time so I better be doing it too.

There’s a time and place for everything like hanging out with your friends and getting your nails done but that has to be the right time. Sometimes it’s good to get that little bit of break but that has to be the right time, it takes everything you got and a lot of hard work.

Lewis: The top 3 things of coaching someone?

Katrin: It’s focusing on the right things you know it’s probably that you can’t control others or the outcome but you can control your sleep, make sure you get enough sleep that’s like my number 1 recovery thing sleep. It’s focusing on the right things and I feel that when you do that and you focus on the things that you actually can control you feel like your mind is like a windshield wiper you just see things clear and you’re not constantly fussing about little things or getting iterated, if you can change it just change it and if you can’t and move on you know you’re not at least gets my mind so much clear. I think number 2 is probably focusing on details, I think there’s so many little things that you think are little things you know like that little accessory thing that the interview day that you could just skip or having that one cookie, it’s taking care of all the little details that seem so little in the time but they’re little quick to something that is really big. The 3rd thing is relationships, it’s evolving great relationship around you and I see that with the way that he treats his family and his friends and who he coaches. It’s like you create a great life with the relationships that you create around you.

Michelle: I think you need to have a strong and genuine deep confidence like it has to be like deep in your core, it has to be unshakeable.

Lewis: So you can’t doubt yourself?

Michelle: You can’t doubt yourself at all and you have to be two steps ahead of everybody else.

Lewis: What does that mean?

Michelle: There’s so many different things like going to fighting. You know it’s not just physical of course it is obvious, you have to be physically ready. But once you surpassed that once you guys are on the same level physically then it becomes a mental game. Are you mentally sharp? Can you deal with the media? Can you deal with all the outside noise? Can you deal with all the inside noise in your head? Can you deal with all of the other circumstances surrounding you as you are training for this fight? There’s just so many different elements that go into it and everything has to fall into place for you to win that one night.

Lewis: One moment can change everything. What do you do to silence the conversation that holds you back?

Michelle: I take a deep breath and I tell myself confidence and it just calms me. I feel like we all have that voice in our head that like inner critic that in my mind it’s my mom. My mom is just like super critical and like, but I think it’s just culturally that’s how they raised their kids it’s kind of like that negative motivation put on your shoulder. But I’ve been working a lot with a sports psychologist and he explains it to me in a way that, like the same emotions you get when you’re fearful are the same emotions you get when you’re excited, which is [?] differently. So, anytime I do get nervous or afraid or anxious I just take a deep breath and I tell myself confidence and it reminds me to use that energy, that nervous energy and transform it into good energy. Energy that’s going to fill me, energy that’s going to build confidence within me, and energy that’s going to allow me to use it towards my benefit.

Lewis: In your opinion what does it mean to respect your opponents? And how can you be respectful to your opponents when you’re fighting them?

Michelle: That’s a hard one because like I said I’m a people pleaser I’m not trash talker, it’s a fine line and I think it depends on the person really. There have been fights where I have given my opponent too much respect and maybe subconsciously they deserve the win over me.

Lewis: Really? Why?

Michelle: Because of their status because of their ranking, because I knew them personally and that’s hard you have to shelf that. You have to say I respect you but at the end of the day you and I are both getting in here to take each other’s head off, and if I don’t get into the cage to do that then I am doing you a disservice.

Lewis: You’re doing her a disservice?

Michelle: Yeah because I’m not giving her my 100%, I’m not giving her my true warrior. Like when you’re playing with your little sister and little brother and they tell you no punching so you kind of like scale it back. You’re doing your opponent a disservice when you do that and that’s how I’ve had to look at it. I’ve had to take my opponent into the equation.

Lewis: Your feelings for them, your care for them.

Michelle: I have to go into the Octagon and tell myself that I deserve to win because I’ve put in all the time, I’ve put in all the work and whatever happens after that happens.

Lewis: How do you stay focus when it’s like “Okay, I’m about to climb this next step but it’s a scary moment.” I don’t know like this uneven footing or they’re gonna place me a thousand feet up and there’s nowhere to grab.

Sasha: I mean sometimes you encounter parts of the climb that you don’t think are physically possible for you and a lot goes into like kind of dwindling down little pieces and trying out different ways that you can a solution.

Lewis: Because you’ll try and you’ll fall a bunch a few feet or whatever.

Sasha: Exactly and you keep like pulling back on and trying something else fall, pull back on try like a little credit card size into the rock to dingle off of and then if that doesn’t work then you either just like keep banging your head on it or like train harder and return.

Lewis: What happens if it doesn’t work? You just go back down?

Sasha: Yeah, sometimes.

Lewis: Shut up, simply a thousand feet in the air.

Sasha: Yeah it can be like I can’t do this right now.

Lewis: There’s 50 feet to go.

Sasha: You can literally stop like if you’re on a 3,000 foot climb you can be stopped by 6 feet because like if something doesn’t go and you can’t physically do it and move then that can be the end. I think a lot of what climbing has taught me is there’s often a solution you just have to kind of like open your mind up to different possibilities and a lot of climbing what’s so intriguing about sport physically to me is that it can be the smallest differences and body positioning that makes all the differences. So, it’s like all upper body hamstring oriented sport but you’re really using your entire body like your core, hips and really the driving force you are using your foot work really well because you have to balance on like tiny little nubbins and shift your weight and allocate exert enough force to move up the wall.

I really do believe in listening to the universe and I think that if you open yourself up to what the universe is trying to say to you then there’s this timing and process to life that makes sense if you let it make sense. So everything in my life I mean it feels like when I looked back ‘Oh that makes sense.’ The timing and the situation, negative experience led me to a positive experience it’s kind of interesting that it makes me less anxious if I just trust the process, even right now I have this air boot because I have a fractured fibula and it’s like when I did that it was after, I was training for the New York City marathon and I was on a climbing trip through Europe and then Jordan and then back to Europe and so I had this pain in my leg and like I don’t know why my leg is so painful but I’m just gonna keep charging on, it was hiking with heavy pack and climbing.

Lewis: And training for running?

Sasha: Yeah training for the marathon. Like not listening to my body but then I got to Germany and I got an MRI and I learned that it’s a stress fracture and it was like good thing my pain tolerance isn’t negligible at least. But then when I was given this air boot and I arrived to this series like conference in Miami with international women’s forum and I had all of these blossoming business ideas and I had to be in one place to actually like take advantage of and organize thing just like give my life a little room to breathe and be home and get grounded again. So, I saw this air boot as like life’s way of saying slow down and listen to your body and just be still and I think I’m in a much healthier mindset than I was when I was not stopping traveling because I was like on the road for 4 months straight up to this point of like, now you’re gonna like can inward and get your life just like let it chill.

Brooke: I was at a place where I needed to, if I wanted to be better than I could have been I needed to work through the stuff, like I needed to tear the walls down. I think to a certain point the walls I had built or the things, the lies that I had told myself so I could like get through a day without thinking negative thoughts about myself probably really helped me get to a certain point. But to become anything more or better than that I had to deal with them, and that’s kind of what happened.

Lewis: How did you deal with them?

Brooke: 1 talking to people that I really trusted, the thoughts that I have instead of keeping them inside because I am embarrassed about them. But also 2 you say them out loud to yourself and it sounds way dumb. So, a lot of more from that and then I read a book from Berne Brown [?].

Lewis: She’s amazing.

Brooke: And that was probably the book that really helped me decide I could sort of mending things moving forward and realizing that we have like all of these moments that you can always just make a change, like I’m feeling all these things and I’ve been affected by what people have said about me and I knew that I wanted to feel better and change and move on and move forward and grow from the experience but for some reason it was almost like I was waiting for this moment.

Lewis: Right.

Michelle: But in reality, it’s like you have a million moments.

Lewis: Every moment we get to decide.

Michelle: And you just got to make a choice

Lewis: That’s the challenge I’m meeting a lot of people who don’t believe in themselves, they don’t think they’re ready or they don’t think they should be in a position they’re at. Like you said every moment we have an opportunity to decide if we want to continue to tell ourselves negative things or say something positive that we do belong or we are good enough, or here exactly where we need to be at the right time. A lot of people I think struggle with accepting their greatness or accepting the success their getting and it always frustrates me why we struggle with that, because we should be stepping into it more and more to inspire people, and when we constantly say negative things to ourselves it just holds us back and hold other people back. But like you said when we start to talk about with friends that’s when you realize how stupid or ridiculous it may be. So, sharing these things with people and not just holding it in is what’s gonna help us move forward.

Michelle: I mean it really started to make a difference and one it’s like in relationship and it really was just me realizing that the only person that’s holding me back was myself, and really helped me realize like I don’t have to give power to my negative thoughts I don’t have to give power to strangers thoughts, like people say dumb stuff all the time and if you don’t like the way I look or you don’t like the way I dress it still doesn’t affect the fact that I’m still gonna go and be successful and I’m still gonna be the person I’m supposed to be even if you don’t like me.

Bella: No matter what it is you do people are gonna love you and people are gonna hate you, and like you have to be okay with that. And how the world will perceive you like I don’t like how she lives or I don’t like how she talks or I don’t like how she eats her food or I don’t like how, I love how they are. So, you just know that no matter I can act like Mother Theresa all I want it doesn’t matter.

Lewis: You can save every tree in the world.

Bella: It’s like she’s so annoying she saved so many trees. So, the scariest part was just the feeling of like ‘okay, I’m going to be judged constantly.’

Lewis: How did you guys handle that?

Bella: In the beginning in kind of like rocks your world. Social media you can see everything.

Lewis: Every tweet everything.

Bella: And you think to yourself like don’t take it personal but it is hard not to and like it affects you, but now it doesn’t at all now it’s like we kind of let everything roll of us, but at the end of the day we’re like the whole world is not gonna like you.

And I think everyone goes through this and I think because it’s social media and I think it’s important to go through it is you’re gonna go through that tough time of ‘it’s okay to be upset about seeing hate about you’ and I think I had to go through that period of time where I’m like ‘I’m totally getting bullied online this is crazy.’ And having those feelings of being so down because then it made me be like ‘why am I letting these people affect me? I don’t even know these people but why am I letting them affect me?’

Lewis: You were [?] trained in the last 15 years or 20 years on how to do this, so you have to learn on the job essentially?

Bella: Oh yeah big time.

Lewis: I learn the hard way many times because I wasn’t trained this way I have this passion and idea I want to bring it to life.

Bella: I don’t know if you feel this way, but it’s sometimes good to learn the hard way because I feel like that gives you success overtime like that long term.

Lewis: If you work in the beginning that’s not good. I think you want to struggle a little bit or at least have some adversities.

Bella: We’ve had like 2 to 3 times already.

Lewis: You got to be fully invested.

Bella: You do big time. The last 3 years because we hit some rock bottom points and Nicole and I looked at each other and like our first time, we were just led the wrong way and we put all our apples into 1 person and all of a sudden their vision was way different and try to execute it and we’re like ‘no’ and then all of a sudden it went away.

Emily: I knew that I’d do something good and I wanted to do something that would help other people. I didn’t know what it was gonna be but I knew I have some sort of I don’t want to say fame, but like some sort people looking to me for something, which I thought was ironic because I was also insecure and so shy.

Lewis: But you knew that’s something you want?

Emily: I knew it and it was weird because here I got the ultimate of what I want to be and what I want to do. It was a weird feeling and then I knew that I had to start working at myself and I did a great point where I did probably early to mid-20’s so I guess light, and I started towards making myself the best I could be by getting healthy and fit and being more positive and having some self-beliefs and realizing what actually made me happy in life which was fitness obviously and helping people. So it’s when I started doing what I’m doing now and sort of building that.

Lewis: What are some of the tools that you use when you’re looking to overcome that insecurity or fear or comparison? Because I think this would help a lot of people who are constantly comparing. To see someone like you with a massive audience, great body, great image on everything on how you do that.

Emily: You got to work out what makes you happy in life and what’s most important to you, is it really trying to be perfect and worrying about what everyone else thinks of you? Especially on social media. Does it really make you happy? Temporarily yeah you feel good, your ego is getting fed but long term I don’t really think it does and I think you need to get to a point where you do know what makes you happy and you’re aware of that and you don’t rely on that to keep feeding the happiness.

Lewis: Yeah.

Emily: When I feel, Dan and I talked about this before with my followers but when I get in sort of my Dan moments and I haven’t had for a while which is a good thing. I think I’ve been traveling a lot and I just got really rundown and everything just went [?].

Lewis: It’s hard to keep your body healthy and your system.

Emily: I was feeling crappy, getting moving is incredible does incredible things for you and [?] you get from really, it’s a real thing. I haven’t been doing it for a while I didn’t want to I wasn’t motivated.

Lewis: To move to work out.

Emily: How can I get myself back there, I know that that’s what change my life and yet here I am stuck feeling [?]. I thought like I don’t want to go to the gym because I’m not motivated to do that. So, I put music on and dance around the house and I started learning hip-hop I started putting tutorials on the big screen and dancing around like an idiot, I was not good at it but that’s not the point.

Lewis: That’s right.

Emily: I felt good I felt happy and the music lift my mood and I started getting outdoors and outside and the sun and fresh air and just finding that bounce again so I could start to feel again ‘what is it that makes me happy again?’ So, I got back there and I’m like I’m back on track again. For you to find what it is it does for you, for you maybe it’s writing a book maybe it’s walking or ice skating or whatever. Do something that makes you feel good again but you got to find your creative and my creative for me is training and getting outdoors and talking to people and helping people.

Lewis: It’s probably not sticking on your phone looking on Instagram all day.

Emily: That could be quite poisonous.

Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this interview series with some of the greatest athletes in the world on what it takes to be a champion. Again, a big thank you to all the ladies who have inspired so many people around the world and for sharing their wisdom on the school of greatness.

If you want to be a hero to someone today you can do that by sharing this episode with them. Spread the message of inspiration and greatness in their life today. All it takes is one share.

Big thank you to our sponsor design crowd. If you’re looking to really take your brand to the next level make sure to go to check it out right now.

No matter where you at in your life remember that true champions aren’t always the ones that win but those with the most guts. That was Mia Ham that said that and you may not have the most talent in the world right now, you may not have the skills or the resources or the opportunities that other people have. Life isn’t fair that way but the equalizer of all of this is effort is guts, is how much you are willing to go after what you want. Every time I step on the court or watch a game I’m more inspired by the person with the most guts than the person with the most talent. Make sure you go out there and share yourself, allow yourself to be vulnerable, put everything on the line for what you want that my friend is a true champion.

I love you all so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.


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