…it is only Potential Power. It is Execution that matters.
When I decided to write my first book, I spoke to a friend who’s wife was a well known author. She was an International bestseller, and her books had been translated into something like 30+ languages. Suffice to say, she was big time. When I told her husband Michael that I wanted to write a book, he just smiled and wished me luck. I was hoping he would introduce me to his wife and she would give me some pointers, but he didn’t bite on my vague hint. So, I asked, and here is what he said: “I learned my lesson long about about bugging my wife about this kind of thing”. I was perplexed, so I asked what exactly that meant. He shut down the discussion with this statement: If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they want to write a book, I’d be a rich man.
For a moment, I was offended. It felt like he was doubting that I could or would do this. But then I realized what he said was a direct reflection of his experience, and that I would have to prove that I was serious. So, I forged ahead without any advice from her, and I never mentioned it to Michael for about a year. One day I walked into to see him and dropped my finished book in his hands. “Here, this is for you” I stated, with a wry smile on my face. His reaction was a little more than I had anticipated. “Holy Crap…you did it! I can’t believe it!!! ” He was stunned, and he grabbed me and hugged me really tight, and then he pulled away and said: “I am so proud of you!” He kept going on about how surprised he was that I actually pulled this off. I started to feel a tinge of anger, that his words were implying that I wasn’t capable of something like this. And then he said what I needed to hear to really understand:
Despite what people think, Knowledge is not Power, it is only potential power.
It is Execution that matters.
That’s when it hit me…most people talk a good game, but very few people actually make stuff happen. Therefore, just saying you’re going to to something doesn’t mean squat if you don’t back it up with action. I assume I get the drive and willpower to achieve something from my Dad, as he has been willing to try and fail and try again throughout his life. He was good about instilling a diligent work ethic into me, and I took that idea and ran with it. I discovered early on that I wasn’t brimming with talent of any discernible kind, but if I was willing to work harder than others at a particular skill, I could outwork talent. This has been a theme in my life, and luckily it started at an early age. As a complete beginner in the sport of racquetball at age 15, I went to my first tournament and despite getting absolutely crushed in my first match, I decided I was going to turn Pro one day. I was at the bottom of the food chain at that point, not even the best player in my circle of racquetball friends, let alone some child prodigy, but I made the statement and from that moment forward everything in my life and every decision I made was geared towards reaching that goal. It was ten years of solid work to get there, and when I did turn Pro I wasn’t really ready. But I had, to a degree, conquered the landscape in AZ, and so it was time to move on to the big time.
It took me three years at that level to consider myself actually competitive at the Pro game. I did a total revamp of most of my game, despite being inside the top 70 in the world. I was willing to take a step back to take a few steps forward once again. By doing this, I made it into the top 20 in the world, and spent three years at this level. I firmly believe that I truly maximized my potential; I didn’t overachieve but I was topped out at number 18. The guys ranked above me were better players and that’s all there was to it. I could hang for games but not full matches with them. But I did it; I committed to this dream and I worked my ass off to get there. I didn’t know what I didn’t know starting out, but I learned as I went. I found an additional secret to success, beyond just outworking everyone. Here it is:
I learned to believe in myself.
I trusted that although I didn’t have all the answers now, I could figure things out as I went well enough to keep inching my way forward. I would learn and grow and try and fail and try again. I would trust that I could handle the failures and ignore the critics and non-believers. I accrued knowledge and experience as I went, instead of waiting until I was “ready”. If I waited until I was ready, I never would have gotten to the top level. I would have sat on the sidelines, criticizing those who were trying to do what I wanted to do. I would have been a jaded spectator instead of a battling participant. Far too many people become bitter about their lives because they don’t have the guts to get into the arena and give it a try. I understand, this is a big risk, too big for most. But for those of us who can withstand the criticism and the naysayers, we can see and experience things that are out of reach for everyone else. So the question becomes: what are you willing to do to execute?
Regardless of the type of risk it is, are you willing to take a chance to elevate? Can you find the belief in yourself to jump off the proverbial cliff and figure out how to build a plane on the way down? This is pretty much what anyone who achieves anything has to do. Everything from applying to a college across the country as your first time away from home, starting a business, asking out someone you’ve been interested in for a long time, it all comes down to managing the fears and concerns you have well enough to still take action. The fear will be present for a long time, although it is lessen each time you take another step in the direction of what you want accomplish. You learn to manage your emotions, your doubts and your concerns as you go, there is no way to simulate this. You have to be “in the game” to understand all of the things that you have to deal with internally, it cannot be done from the stands.
Circling back to the story above with Michael, don’t bother talking a good game if you do not really plan to back it up with action. Don’t be like the masses, droning on about how you are going to start a business and change the world if you are not actively taking steps to do so. Once something gets solidified as a goal you want to achieve, start taking action. Don’t worry about if you have to backtrack or pivot ideas after you get started…just get started. Execution is what matters, lots of people talk smack but few ever back it up. Be one of the few who do…