Humans give up too soon, and we get frustrated much quicker than what is reasonable, rational or mathematically realistic. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Outliers", introduces the concept of "10,000 hours". The premise ... to become an expert or to achieve mastery of a skill, it will take a typical human about 10,000 hours devoted to that activity or skill. 10,000 hours! That is a lot of hours. 2 hours of practice a day, 6 days a week. 12 hours. 16 weeks in a typical season. 192 hours. That equates to 52 seasons to get to 10,000 hours. That won't work unless you plan on getting a third major and the NCAA changes the four year eligibility rule. How about this for math ... 2 hours of practice a day, 6 days a week for 50 weeks a year. 600 hours a year. 17 years. That is a lot better ... assuming we work hard during the summer, during the off season and if we only take a day off each week. 17 years is a lot more than one week or one season or one career for most people and unfortunately, most people get frustrated due to their lack of progress or their failure to reach their perceived goals in too short of a period of time. There are humans who become so frustrated after one practice that they decide to quit (maybe not quitting the sport altogether, but they quit trying to improve on a particular skill). But that 17 years can become a lot shorter when we put in more time each day through workouts, visualization, eating right, getting sleep, watching videos about our events, mental rehearsal and mental preparation. That 17 years is a lot shorter when we focus on progression and improvement and not merely the end goal and results. That 17 years gets A LOT shorter when we choose to live our our goals as a lifestyle instead of simply making our goals a small portion of our day. ”The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.” Malcolm Gladwell. And today, that "harder" equates to "longer".
Average is ... average. Average isn't bad, unless your goal in life is to be more than average. Average is most people. By definition, average is normal. Most people are average because most people behave the same way and do the same things (they are normal). Being overweight is normal in the United States because most people lack the discipline and motivation to watch what they eat and/or exercise more. If you want to be better than average then you must choose to do the things that others are not willing to do. You need to do more when others are fine with less. You must do different when everyone else is doing the same. In order to become above average or exceptional, you need to do what others won’t do to succeed. Most people avoid pain. We need to understand pain is part of the growth process in both athletics and life. Most people look for the easier way to accomplish something. We need to appreciate and crave hard workouts or difficult classes or challenging task. We should seek out tough competition, welcome correction, get uncomfortable, be intentional about building our own self-confidence, and make more sacrifices. Instead of being average or normal, our goal should be to viewed by those around us as abnormal!
Most people value a day off. A "Day Off" is usually a day off from school or work or some other daily activity that requires a majority of our time and effort. A day off provides the opportunity for us to either rest from all of the other previous days or an opportunity to get caught up for the upcoming period of time. Successful people understand the need for both rest and the need to get caught up. If you have been working hard and burning the candle at both ends, in order to be successful, and if rest has been put on hold during that period of time, then a day of rest has been earned and should be utilized. Rest and recovery is essential for any improvement. However, if we have found ourselves less productive, or in a season of procrastination or low motivation, or if we have had some other form of either voluntary or involuntary rest, then using the extra time during a "day off" to catch up on things, that have fallen behind or even use the time to get ahead, is wise. Days off are a break from our routine, but they have a purpose. God took a day off. He wants us to as well. But that day off (sabbath) has a purpose. Days off shouldn't simply be wasted. We need to put some intentional thought into our "days off" so that they are most beneficial to our future goals.
In legal terms, there are two ways to be wrong. "Omission" and "Commission". We are most familiar with the notion of commission, as in "committing a crime". Commission refers to "doing something you aren't supposed to do". If we steal something from someone, that is a crime (wrong) of commission. We did something wrong because we did something that we shouldn't have done. Omission, on the other hand, refers to "not doing something we should have". The most common example of omission is the concept of neglect. Neglect occurs when we fail to take care of something or someone. We neglect fixing our broken headlight (a misdemeanor), or we neglect brushing our teeth (not a crime but maybe it should be felony). Throughout our day, we typically recognize the times when we do something wrong because we do something that we know we shouldn't have done. We often see the results of our wrong decision or action. Unfortunately, we typically are oblivious of the times that we do something wrong when we fail to do something we should have done. Out of sight, out of mind. We often don't see what we need to do or the results of our inaction so the moment passes us by. As an athlete, we are wrong when we do something that we shouldn't have done. However, we are also wrong when we don't do what we should be doing. As we continue to work toward our goals today and tomorrow and the coming weeks and months, we must make sure that we are not only avoiding things that we shouldn't be doing. We must also make sure that we do all of the things that we should be doing.
More is not always better. More is only better when more is required. More effort is good. More time spent is usually beneficial. More focus typically works. However, sometimes different is the appropriate response and will lead to better results than simply doing the wrong thing "more". Risking to do something differently will often get more out of us. Move differently. Recover differently. Study differently. Pray differently. Work differently. Communicate differently. Stretch differently. Ice differently. Practice differently. Think differently. There are definitely times that require us to do more ... much more. But there are also times we simply must do different.
More is not always better ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVsQLlk-T0s
Two beneficial tools to have in your toolbox - being intentional and being proactive. Waiting around for success to happen will only result in a lot of waiting (and often times a lot of worry). Furthermore, when we only react to life as it happens to us, we will either keep treading water or it causes us to sink. If we truly want to move forward, make progress, improve and reach our full potential in life, we must be intentional and be proactive. Do something. Anything. Even if you fail at it. At least you are trying to improve and you are learning something from the failure, while also eliminating bad options. If you feel that you aren't capable or you aren't able to move forward right now in a certain area of your life, then instead of "trying harder", you should "try different". Like the paralytic at the well (John 5:1-15), don't expect someone to throw you into the water for you to be healed ... if you want to be healed, pick up your mat and walk.
When we find ourselves stuck in a rut or not moving forward or in a slump, we must be counter-intuitive. The natural inclination for most people when they struggle to find growth or success is to work harder. We feel that we need to do more to figure out why we are not improving or why we may indeed be going backwards. However, the solution to any slump or being in a rut is to focus less on ourselves and more on others. More is not always the answer. Different may be the better choice. When we direct our attention to others and when we have a goal of making others better, we take our attention and focus off of ourselves, and we allow natural growth to ultimately occur. Our rut or slump is often a by-product of too much focus on ourselves and not enough investment in others around us. Make a choice right now to make someone in your life better today and the result will be that you will be become better too.
If someone comes to you and says, "I am stressed out!", you wouldn't respond by saying "Congratulations. That is such great news. I am so happy for you". Our society views "stress" with negativity, and it is something to be avoided. Stress is actually defined as "a demand placed on something". Stress is a neutral term and can often be a positive thing for us. In order to get stronger, we stress our muscles in the weight room. We lift weights and the weight puts our body under stress and over time, with proper recovery, we become better. In order to gain endurance, we stress our cardiovascular system. In order to gain knowledge, we read and listen to lectures and take notes to stress our minds. Stress, in the proper amounts, is what helps us to grow and improve. Stress only becomes distress (defined as "a demand that causes harm") when we don't respond properly to the stress and/or when we allow it to be "too much". Too much exercise with not enough rest/recovery can cause harm (hence the term "stress fracture"). Too much demand on our mind or emotions, without coping with those "stressors", can cause harm. Instead of getting "stressed out", we need to "get the stress out" by addressing the demands that life places on us by coping with the demands and not ignoring them. First we need to identify the stressor and then we need to determine the harm that it is causing us. Finally, we need to make a plan to deal with the stressor.
A plan that only includes one option is not truly a plan. Successful plans must be flexible and they must have several options or alternatives for them to be effective. Life is messy. Life is unpredictable. It is not "if" something difficult or unexpected will happen to us, but it is more accurate to ask the questions of "when" or potentially "what" will happen. A good plan requires several contingencies and alternatives. When we plan our day, we need to have a good plan but a good plan must include the ability to adjust or respond to obstacles thrown in our way. We should have a Plan A, but also a Plan B, C and D waiting in the wings when Plan A doesn't eventually work.
When someone is seen as being "determined", they are seen to have "resolve". If you look at the word "determination", you see the word "termination". Both "termination" and "resolve" refer to "completing" something or "an ending". When we say we are "determined" or that we have "determination", we are saying that we will take something to its full completion. We will stick to it until it is done. Determination doesn't mean that we will only stay with it until it gets hard or difficult or boring or uncomfortable or when we lose interest in it. Determination keeps going when we want to stop. Determination doesn't feel. Determination keeps going when we don't feel like we can keep going. When we have a hard conversation with someone and we are willing to stay engaged until we find a resolution, then that is determination. When we find ourselves in a situation where most people quit or give up, determination is a tool in our toolbox that we use to help us finish the job. Determination is what helps us persevere when others quit.