Some years ago I was talking to a well respected NCAA coach who randomly asked me if I would walk across a steel I-beam, 100 stories up, from one skyscraper to the next? Puzzled by the question, I looked at him like he was crazy and responded that I would never take that risk. He first chuckled, but then turned more serious and asked a deeper, more probing question: What would need to be on the other side of the beam that would challenge me to take the risk and walk across?
The point he was trying to make became very clear — we are each individually motivated in life for personal reasons, and lofty goals require we take actions that others wouldn’t. The goals that we choose to pursue are often filled with roadblocks and challenges, and require that give everything we have to succeed. Failing to give our all results in staying with the rest of the pack, but going above what others are willing to do provides the best chance for future success — and the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great.’
Motivations & convictions
Would you walk across the beam if a family member were in trouble?
What if your life depended on you making it across, would you take the chance then?
For some athletes an Olympic gold medal would draw them across, while others might feel the same way simply to make a team they have trained so hard to join.
When it comes to sports, in order to get the most from your abilities you must be willing to fully commit to the challenges that often accompany lofty goals. If you only desire to be average, then all you have to do is put in minimal effort and never fully commit to the process. If, however, you want to be the best at what you do than you must actually do the things others are not willing to do.
Thoughts or actions?
In my professional experiences I have learned that most people talk a much bigger game than they are willing to actually carry out. In other words, a lot of folks think about what it takes to be the best, but when it comes to actually putting those thoughts into action only a small percentage of people do. This is fascinating because it illustrates that often the differences between the best and everyone else has little to do with DNA and genetics, but instead all to do with the lengths a person is willing to take in order to succeed.
For student athletes, these choices are around them every day. Get up extra early for a run? Stay after practice a few minutes longer to drill some more? Finish another set in the weight room? When you add up all the small, daily extra efforts over time they lead to massive differences between the best and everyone else.