As we come off the Super Bowl and jump right into the Olympics, it’s hard not be inspired… Inspired by the athletes’ hard work, dedication, countless hours of training, preparation, and all of the sacrifice to become the very best at what they do – poised to play at world class.
These individuals and teams constantly work to perfect their craft in the hopes of reaching the pinnacle of their respective sport. They are the elite of the elite. They don’t just dominate at their sport, they work to redefine the definition of what it means to be great at their sport. Being great by current definition isn’t great enough.
Those hours of training and practice are focused on achieving perfection – not shaving seconds off of their best time, but hundredths or thousands of seconds. It’s a completely different level of play that most of us may never comprehend.
I’ve especially enjoyed the Olympic coverage I’ve seen thus far, in part, for the commercials (sounds odd to type that, but here me out). Specifically, its the commercials that highlight the old footage of some of the athletes as small children… already practicing their craft. Those extremely short moments tell so much of the story of how these athletes arrived at their biggest moments of competition. They weren’t born with that talent. They found something they enjoyed, and devoted their entire selves to a quest for perfection. Inspiring!
So what can we learn from them – what can we take away? While their performances are entertaining and awe-inspiring, I want us to begin to question why that can’t be us.
No, I’m not saying we try to dedicate ourselves towards reaching the Olympics (unless you want to). Rather I’m asking us to question why we cannot become world class at what we do… today!
What does it mean to play at an elite level in your profession? Teacher, accountant, consultant, manager, doctor, marketer, athlete, artist, parent? Whatever you do, consider dedicating your complete self towards it – redefine what it means to be great… to be world class at what you do. Stop looking at it as a job, and begin seeing it as a craft, and then begin to perfect that craft.
Over the past year, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what playing at world class looks like for me… Truth is, I don’t have a clear picture yet, however I am in full on explore mode – finding ways to push my limits, play outside of my comfort zone, and break down different barriers of what I didn’t think I was capable of doing.
This year, there are two very different adventures that I am embarking on that will create what I hope to be a new version of ‘me’ when I come out the other end. What are those adventures? This year, I will complete a Spartan Trifecta (comprised of up to 29 miles of running and 87 obstacles across 3 races) and complete a Professional Certificate in Leadership Coaching.
These two things seem very different, and in a sense they are, yet to me they are also very much the same. They resonate with my why and will force me to elevate what I believe I’m capable of being and becoming.
Through the Spartan Trifecta I will redefine what I believe my body is capable of doing and my mind is capable of believing. To date, I’ve only run 5 miles once in my life – senior year of high school (2002)… and I’m pretty sure I walked part of it. Now, in April of 2018 I will embark on the first of the three races – 12-14 miles with over 30 obstacles. I will push my limits and I will complete the race.
The Coaching Program will push me to further explore all aspects of my well-being and leadership with the goal to become better positioned to help organizations and individuals achieve a greater sense of their well being and leadership while also helping them reach their goals. This program will push me far outside my quiet and reserved demeanor, and force me to dig deep through my mindset, emotions and spirit.
It is my purpose and mission through Will Athletic to inspire, motivate and assist others to unleash their Inner Athlete and become their very best self. In order to do so, I must do that for myself. And that means continuing to find ways to challenge my body, mind and spirit to redefine that it possible.
Very often in my journey I’ve head a variation of the phrase, “you can only take someone as far as you’ve taken yourself.” To that end, I will continue to take myself further. Truth is, both of the adventures I’m embarking on are not earth shattering – to some, they may be easy. However they will be earth shattering for me, and will serve to create that next level to break through and explore.
Embrace the mindset of growth. Take the next step towards doing what you need to do to play at world class in your life.
Elevate Your Game and Stay Hungry
There is no blue print on how to become the best at what you do. Honestly, in my mind, that’s a good thing! If there was a set path, it would cheapen what it means to actually play at world class.
Each and every one of us needs to harness our own unique drive, dedication and passion towards constant improvement… Always remaining hungry to redefine our best – whether that is by a single percentage point, or a hundredth or thousandth of a second.
So while I won’t pretend to have the answers, I want to provide a few reliable guide posts that can help all of us on our personal journey towards playing at our highest levels.
Be a life long learner
The very best never stop learning. Take the time to learn about everything directly related to your craft and learn about things that have nothing to do with it too! You never know when one best practice or way of doing something in another industry can successfully translate to yours and create a massive impact and differentiator! Inspiration and breakthrough ideas can come from anywhere – especially when we aren’t looking for them. Never believe that you know it all – when you do, that’s when you begin your decline. There is always more to learn.
Surround yourself with top performers
I’ve mentioned this before in my posts on mentors and your circle of genius, and it has its place here too – surround yourself with best if you have aspirations of being the best. I’ve heard another phrase during my personal development journey that speaks to this idea: “Thoroughbreds like hanging out with other thoroughbreds. Surround yourself with greatness, and surround yourself with those who are succeeding in the ways that you want to succeed. If we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with then find the five very best and keep working on your game and craft until you’ve reach the day that you’ve perfected it – and then keep working! No one believed a person could run a 4-minute mile… until someone did. All of a sudden there was a new reality and level of performance that others believe they could achieve. Once you break that barrier, your competition will taste what is possible and start catching up. Keep pushing the limits!
Put in the reps and time – achieve mastery
It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to master something. How many people would see that statistic and decide on the spot to not even put in the time on that first hour? Not us! Nothing truly meaningful comes without sacrifice and putting in the blood, sweat and tears. Commit to creating the best version of you, and that world class vision of your future will emerge as a result of chasing mastery.
Get a coach
Whether we are talking about sports or not, a coach is there to point out your blindspots. A great coach will help to take that raw talent and skill, and mold it into something that inspires others and transcends the game. As individuals, we will only ever work on fixing the things that we see as needing fixing. That will take us a long way, however the weaknesses that we don’t see will only grow and create more negative impacts on our game as we progress and play on bigger and bigger stages. Invest in a coach and start erasing those blindspots and weaknesses.
Find and embrace what makes you different
Part of playing at work class and redefining your ‘sport’ means putting your unique fingerprint on the game. We won’t become world class by doing things the exact same way other people did them. What is your differentiator? Do you want to be world class at selling widgets? Even though thousands of other companies already sell widgets? Understand what makes you unique – what will allow you to stand out in a busy crowd of widget makers. Is it superior quality, world class customer service or a new game-changing feature? Whatever it is for you, in your space, innovate and elevate!
Reach Your Podium
I want to end where I started this post… Far too often we see people reach the top in their sport, their business, or their industry, and just stare at them in amazement. While there is nothing wrong with appreciating the significance of their accomplishment and achievement, I want us to also start asking ourselves:
- What does that championship moment look like for me?
- What is my Super Bowl / Gold Medal?
- How can I redefine greatness in my role / company / industry / profession?
Let’s commit to asking the questions, and then taking the time to begin to imagine the path to get there. Even if we never make it to the point that we are playing at world class, the quality of our lives, our relationships, and our experiences will be like nothing we ever would dreamed about if we just sat there in awe of someone else’s accomplishment. Let’s get out there and get after our own personal journey towards becoming world class.
Discussion Question: What does playing at world class mean for you in your life? What is one thing you can start working on today to start your journey to play at world class?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."