What do you get reading about elite performers … about their drive, their discipline? It’s different feelings for each of us as we hear how others set out to achieve ‘best in their field’ status – learning more about themselves as they work at reaching those goals.
It’s great to hear of their dedication, their trials and the lessons in pursuit of accomplishments. Understanding how they’ve failed, they’ve developed.
It’s personal, that’s what is in it for me. That’s the ‘motivational nugget,’ the personal message.
I was walking off a beach the other evening and bumped into a local triathlete, it was around 7pm and ‘Bea’ having been in the water for the past hour, was off to bed. We had a little banter about ‘staying the distance’ and the sometimes obsession that the elite athletes have with gain, with beating the clock and the physical peak that seems to make up most of the cause.
As impressive as all the athletes are, behind each is a story. With Bea she talks about lots of stuff, including the toll her sport takes on her now 27-year-old body. She trains up to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s a level of physical dedication most of us find hard to fathom.
Just as Bea was making her way home for a well-earned rest, she hinted:
“People don’t realise how mental it is. As much as I pursue my passion, I feel like I have a really, really, good workout, just once a month.”
Bea loves the sport, amongst the dozen or so locals she trains with she will be the senior member of the group although she ‘hangs in there.’
But in the course of 6-hour workouts, 5 days a week, over an entire month, Bea only credits herself with having one good workout.
Bea makes a point of saying she is a perfectionist, that her own high standards are why she feels as though she only has one good workout a month. The rest let her down. … let… her… down?!
While her pursuit of perfection are admirable, she also certainly has a large margin of forgiveness. How else could she show up so often and put in that many hours on the understanding that most of what she does is not really any good.
I had to disagree with Bea on something though – I think most of us DO realise that routine and pursuit of goals is a mental challenge. It’s the harder part.I simply think we don’t know how to manage the mental aspects of our efforts with consistency and confidence.I think we’re conditioned to believe that every workout should be good, the best.
We tend to beat ourselves up if we don’t perform at peak, skip an hour or miss a particular circuit routine and we’ve failed.
The good news is, our own efforts rarely need to be as finely tuned as our triathlete. Our success is not dependent on such a high level of perfection. In fact, our ideas of perfection are merely perceptions that evolve with increased experience and competence. As we develop, we expect more.
One advantage (just one?) most ‘dedicated’ athletes have over us, is that in most cases someone has gone before them. There are rules, expectations, and often, established paths that when followed, aid in their growth. Of course there are no guarantees in the results they may be looking for but by following the plan, they’re well on their way to measurable results.
You and I though, not quite such the ‘elite athlete’ perhaps as we juggle our own daily challenges, find it difficult at times to choose who to listen to or what system to use. We’re distracted by every new idea under the sun, thinking there must be an easier way. We want to hear of the new trick to get us more sales or a better app to help us be more organized. We try a new social media platform believing it will magically change our business, and if we don’t try it, we will surely fail.
Lets just keep … it … simple.
Like I said, I love individual stories. The personal draws me in.
There are patterns everywhere if you look for them. The patterns tell their own story and interestingly enough, they reveal the easier path almost every time.
Here is a great ‘routine’ given to me by a friend … see what you think:
Decide – Know what you will be doing before your day begins. This will be your plan. Without it, you’re just making things up.
Prepare – Know where you need to be and what you need to have with you to execute the plan. If your plan is to make 50 sales calls, you gotta get organised, probably need 50 names, 50 numbers, a phone, and a notebook.
Show Up – Get yourself to wherever the plan says you need to be, on time and ready.
Do the Work – Do whatever the plan said to do. You’ve made a decision, now is not the time to question the plan or skip the steps. Show up. Do the work.
Repeat – You get the idea. Decide again. Tomorrow’s plan will probably be a bit different. Athletes work on all aspects of their game to achieve success. The goals may not change. The larger plan is constant. The daily plan may look a bit different. It’s time to decide again what’s on tomorrow’s plan.
OK, so you missed a day? Something happened to derail the plan? You only made about half the calls?
That’s no problem, because you’re not done. You didn’t mess it all up, it’s part of the plan …
Keep it simple. Start at Decide and go at it again tomorrow.
Let’s stop making it harder than it needs to be. Let’s stop winding ourselves up about this new app or that new method.
Find your ‘motivational nugget’ and let’s stop allowing a bad day to spoil the whole effort.
You don’t need to be perfect. In fact, you probably won’t be. Keep showing up, doing the work and understand that of course it’s not about the goal – it’s the journey on the way to that one golden nugget.