What’s it going to take??
I ask myself this question all the time…What’s it going to take to be at the top of my game? To be at the top of the heap? To be the best at anything?
As an athlete, I think about this question often. Being around other athletes makes me wonder how many actually think about this question. If you were to ask 100 top athletes how they got to the top, there would be a different answer from each and every one of them.
Have you ever heard of the statement, “It takes, on average, 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert?” The 10,000 rule came about by a guy by the name of Malcom Gladwell, author of Outliers. There are several other authors who have written about this subject (Geoff Colvin – Talent is Overrated and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle) and several scientists who have debated the theory.
So, is 10,000 hours enough hours to put in to be the best or is it innate ability?
I actually think that it’s a combination of the two; lots of repetitive practice (hours and hours) and innate ability. However, I strongly believe there are other qualities that go into being the BEST or being at the top for anything you choose in life.
I feel mindset is so important, almost the most important thing over anything else. You can do your best, but if you don’t have your head on straight, you just aren’t going to do well. If you mentally aren’t ready to commit, you won’t physically commit in the way that you need to in order to achieve your goal.
For instance, look at Tiger Woods… he had a lot of scandal a few years back and it ruined his mental game and he fell off the charts. He is clearly an athlete that falls under the 10,000 hour rule when it comes to practice. When he didn’t have his mindset right it ruined his game. Another example of mindset is when you play a game and you panic, you almost always talk yourself out of the success you’re looking to achieve. It’s so important to mentally prepare before a big game or big “anything” in life!
Have you ever gone to a competition or game and totally psyched yourself out?
I think it’s a real common thing because you know all the endless hours and time you’ve put in…or not… and all you want is for it to go well. This is where finding that inner confidence comes into play as well as beginning to visualize what you want to happen once you get out there. Mindset and attitude are important building blocks to have at your foundation.
The definition of perseverance is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, simply to be steadfast. Being able to persevere is the thing that can make or break you. This is another building block to have at your foundation. If it were easy, everyone would do it. You have to be willing to push through some failure and not let failure break you, staying mentally strong and determined despite hurdles and bumps in the road. There are going to be struggles, it just comes down to how badly you want it.
I immediately think of my brother when it comes to perseverance. He is one of the hardest working human beings I know when it comes to putting in the time for his sport. I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother but I’ve watched him work his butt off my whole life to get to his goal of playing, first, college hockey and then professional hockey. He’s gone through the roller coaster that many elite athletes go through trying to make it to the top. He’s been told no, he’s been let down, but he’s persevered through it all and has kept pushing for what it is he wants with the end goal and vision in his mind. He’s put in the 10,000 hours and then some to get to where he wants to be.
In the book Talent is Over-rated, by Goeff Colvin, he quotes “the best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process of reaching the outcome.” People so often focus on the end goal and forget about the process. There is so much gained in learning about oneself in the process of achieving success. The biggest being failure and learning to get up once more than falling down. Make your actions on the road to success deliberate. The more you give the more you get.
Entitlement & Timing
My last block in having a strong foundation for what it’s going to take is entitlement and timing. Check your ego at the door. No one is entitled to anything and certainly not success. You have to work for it and put the time in. I know a coach that once called a parent/player meeting. He told everyone to take a look around the room… who you think will make it, won’t and who you think won’t, will. Everyone peaks at different times and everyone has their day in the sun or shining moments in life. When the time comes, enjoy it because you’ve done it and if it hasn’t come yet; believe that it’s coming your way. I think the worst thing you could do is to think you are entitled to be at the top. Just because YOU think you should be there means nothing. You’ve got to have patience, perseverance and earn it every day.
These are just a few of the many things, in my opinion, that an athlete has to ask themselves and weigh out what lengths they are willing to go to get to the top. This doesn’t just apply to athletes alone. It applies to so many other areas in life. Whether you want to be the best at your job, be a straight A student, be the best parent you can be, get healthier, whatever it is.
So I ask you, what is it going to take for you to reach your goals?