Too often we falsely assume that great athletes are great because of luck, timing or genetics, when it fact greatness largely comes about from sheer work, determination and a willingness to do the things others are not willing to do.
Great athletes, along with great people from any line of work, rarely achieve greatness by chance, but instead they are willing to do the little things better than others. The little things like first to practice, last to leave, journaling their progress, being coachable and asking questions. I believe that mental toughness grows and develops through extra effort and not because you were born with it.
In my athletic and business career, I have had a chance to play alongside some great people and rub shoulders with business people who came from nothing to achieve millions of dollars of wealth. I have also been around some amazing parents who have raised incredible kids of character. In every case, I can say I have been impressed with their work ethic more than anything else. They have experienced great success at the highest levels because they are willing to do even the tough stuff that many are unwilling to do.
As we train kids in a variety of sports, I tell kids all the time “There is no instant success in anything. You must work the tools I give you and put in hundreds of hours of correct repetition because one day you’ll face an obstacle or opponent that doesn’t care who your parents are, or where you come from, or what kind of award you got in third grade. They’ll chew you up and spit you out.” I can tell you that the students willing to outwork others with hours of working the details always rise above the competition. That work ethic will penetrate all of their life as they mature. They will most likely work hard at their career, their marriage and at raising their children.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to developing success and a piece of mental toughness, and the process is largely dependent on the work you are willing to put in each day. Having a certain genetic make up in sports is no doubt helpful, but that advantage usually levels out as kids mature and move up in the competitive level — that’s where the years of doing the little things take over.
If you are a parent of a young athlete or a sports coach of a local team, perhaps motivating kids to do the little things is the greatest challenge. In doing this, it is best to start the conversation early on with your child, practice doing the little things and give him or her real-life examples of those who have overcome great odds in order to be successful.
I am a big believer that you need to implement doing the little things in every area of your life, and then it will overflow into all of your life. Do you do the little things and expect your kids to follow? Or are you helping those around you to accept mediocrity?
Next time you desire to skip over the details, remember, kids will catch what you do, and doing the little things will make all the difference in success or failure.
Information provided by David Charleston, owner of The Orange Planet Athletic Club in Pleasant Hill.