The Difference Between "Good" and "Great"

Over the past week, I've been fortunate enough to spend time with 2 very high level athletes.  I spent a little over an hour training one of them, a college infielder looking to be drafted in this upcoming MLB draft, and sat down for coffee with the other, a professional triathlete looking to break into the top-tier ranks of the sport.  I'm incredibly lucky to have both of these opportunities, and they turned out to be two very eye-opening experiences... ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Oftentimes, when you think about professional and higher-level college athletes, you put them up on this pedestal.  You may view them as heroes or individuals who you may have absolutely nothing in common with and who wouldn't waste their time on a conversation with you, but this really isn't the case.  In reality, they are very normal people, just like you and me.  They enjoy good movies, they have relationship issues, they absolutely despise the smell and taste of mustard (maybe that's just me).

You'd be surprised how much in common you may have with your favorite athlete, but, the fact of the matter is, these people reside in the upper echelons of their profession.  They are the best of the best.  They're professionals in every sense of the word.  What got them there?  Were they lucky?  Did they know somebody important?  Were they bitten by a radioactive spider?  The answer is actually quite simple...

These people are DRIVEN.  They live and breathe their profession, and understand that they have no room to slack off if they want to achieve their goals.  They refuse to let others get in their way, and they truly believe in themselves. This drive is what fuels them, and it's what motivates them to take that next step, allowing them to inch closer and closer to success.

During his training session, I asked the baseball player what's changed for him over the past year.  What has he done differently this year than any year before it, and how has that led to the success he's had this season?  Mind you, he is currently leading the nation in triples.  He's playing at an extremely high level and has been generating a ton of interest from MLB scouts.  His answer had nothing to do with improving his bat speed.  It didn't involve keeping his eye on the ball a little longer, or generating a more powerful first step.  His answer: meditation.

Before each game, this kid puts on his headphone and sunglasses, turns up "Lord of the Rings Radio" and falls into this relaxed, meditative state while his trainer stretches him out.  He doesn't think about the opposing pitcher.  He doesn't analyze his week of practice, or the last game he played.  He literally relaxes every part of his being, including his mind, and, in his words, "goes to sleep."  Afterwards, he "wakes up" prepared to play just another baseball game. It's this focus, this passion, and this dedication to self-preparation that has allowed him to have his best collegiate season thus far.

There are so many high level athletes out there that will never make it to the big leagues.  They're too jacked up in the head, over-analyzing every situation and getting in their own way.  At the elite level in sports, athletic abilities are almost identical.  Sure, some people are slightly stronger, some are a little bit quicker, and some have greater raw power.  However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to what's between your ears.  You can have all the athletic ability in the world, but everyone messes up at some point.  What really makes you great is how well you rebound from that mistake.  Are you the type of player that absolutely dominates in practice, but then goes and makes an error during the first play of competition and absolutely falls apart?

Now, I'm a strength and conditioning coach.  I relate everything to athletics and sports performance, but this lesson applies to EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON PLANET EARTH.  Whether or not you're a computer engineer, a recruiter, or a sales executive, you have the ability to get in your own way when that bad day comes your way.  But guess what?  You also have the ability to reach deep down, grab your proverbial sack, and keep on chuggin'.  All you need is that drive, that passion, and that unwavering focus that is going to push you to the next level.  No one gets anywhere in life by having a defeatist, "boo-hoo," "woe is me" attitude.

Youhave what it takes to succeed.  You just need to accept it, harness it, and use it to push through the hard times.  Be the person you've always wanted to be, even if you don't know exactly who that is yet.  Chances are it includes the following attributes: hardworking, friendly, dedicated, passionate, exciting, innovative, useful, successful, compassionate, creative, inspirational and self-reliant.  Everyone fails in life, but the best learn from that failure and use it to improve themselves and prepare for their next set of challenges.

See you next time.