by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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We have all heard for a long time that work/life balance is very important to a healthy lifestyle.  Please allow me to be the one to blow that idea apart for you.  I’ll start this blog off with a bang…

Greatness and Balance do not go together

I can attest to this personally, and I have certainly observed it lots of other places as well.  Do you think Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods were worried about a balanced life?  Hell No…they wanted to be the best of the best, uncommon even amongst uncommon men.  There is nothing that screams mediocrity like the desire for a balanced and easy life.  It is the path of least resistance, less friction and challenge than other approaches.  I’ll pass, thanks.

Most people want to win, be few really want to prepare.  Hardly anyone is willing to die trying, and I mean that literally.  I have found myself in physical tests where someone else had to step in on my behalf and shut things down for my own wellbeing.  It is not that I am stupid, far from it.  It is because I know what it takes to excel; I have seen plenty of others do it and I adopted these practices for myself.  I had the will, the personal discipline and the desire to push myself to my absolute limits.  Truly to the point of danger.  For example, my heart rate would hit 200 bpm when sprinting up the hill I would take the racquetball team to for training sessions.  Yes, you read that correctly, two hundred beats per minute.  I am not sure how many beats per minute it would take for my heart to actually explode, maybe it is only 210.  Maybe there is a lot more before I get there.  But I can tell you this, I pushed myself to the point of being scared of the possibility that I die on that hill.

If you are asking yourself “Why on Earth would he do that?”, you may be living a life of comfort and lack of challenge.  You may have a desire to be really good at something, or even great, but if you question my sanity on the physical exertion I explained above, you may not be of the right mindset at the moment.  It doesn’t mean you can’t get there, but if you are looking for the short cut, the easy path to six pack abs or a bench press that is double your body weight, or anything else, you’ll need to callous your mind better.  And of course you can’t go run a hill without the proper preparation and think that something bad won’t happen.  You need to work your way up to the level of fitness and mindset that carry you through an experience like this.  Even pulling a hamstring due to lack of true fitness could happen while running the hill, so please, be smart on your approach to this.

However, I do still want to encourage you to push your own current limits and move that bar forward.  You need to understand the benefit of personal discipline and drive, and how integral these attributes are for success.  I can tell you from direct personal experience that all of the mental toughness and fortitude I have comes from the “practice” of being an athlete.  The daily workouts, regardless if I felt like training that day or not, the dreaded hill runs, the weight room sessions, the practice sessions, the frustrating stages of changing a technique that was a deeply engrained habit, all of helped to build a tolerance to things that deter most people.  Getting prepared for a business trip or assembling everything for a presentation is a piece of cake compared to running that God D**n hill.  When you have been to the edge and peeked over, nothing short of that point really scares you.  It is a learned toughness and tolerance that you can carry into any other phase and challenge of life.

A balanced life was for the players I competed against that were happy to have made it to the quarter finals, and maybe, on occasion, see the Semis.  They would try to put on a good show in the semi-finals playing against me, but to no avail.  The difference was clear from the moment we were called to the court to play our match.  I knew I was going to win, and so did they.  It was a foregone conclusion, and just a matter of how long they could delay that inevitability.  You don’t get to that level of confidence without repeated trial by fire, proving to yourself that you can and will do everything within your power to win.  Balance is for people who showed up on the challenge court a couple of days a week and considered that a “tune up” for the weekend tournament.  Wrong.  That was a small part of the process.  I didn’t have a 40 hour a week day job that prevented me from being ready at all times.  In fact, my day job WAS playing racquetball.  I was dedicated enough, unbalanced enough, focused on greatness enough to forego distractions like a day job.

Balance is for later in life, once you have achieved and maintained the goal you were chasing in the first place.  After I retired from competitive play myself, then I had a day job and some semblance of balance in my life.  But it wasn’t long before I had the itch to find a new challenge to conquer, so I went into coaching.  And what began as a quick one-hour group lesson for the ASU Racquetball Club turned into three hours a night, two nights a week for fifteen years side job.  At practice, there was no balance.  I taught and lead by example, that total commitment, at least while on the courts with me, was the only way to succeed.  And boy did we; I had over three dozen kids achieve Collegiate All American status by the time they graduated.  Some of them had never played racquetball before college at all, and yet with the right work ethic and the right game plan, they could excel.  While they were students first those six hours minimum per week were mine, and they were lived my way.  I taught them through example, I showed up every time, clocked in, and went to work.  That is part of the recipe for greatness, in any endeavor.

Whatever it is you wish to achieve, you need to go all in.  This applies to relationships, finding a job, exceling in a sporting endeavor, you have to outwork everyone.  There will always be people with more talent, but that is only one part of the equation.  Lots of talented people have had things come easily for them, and at some point when it comes time to work hard, they don’t really know how to do that.  Grinders win in the end…

If you want to rise to the top, you need to be obsessed with your goals, and let nothing deter you from the path to get to where you want to go.  You sacrifice things now for triumphs later.  You work in the shadows, harder than anyone, so when your moment in the sun comes, you can shine.  That is how you achieve greatness.  You can have balance later, once the work is done.  You cannot have balance along the way and think you’ll end up where you wish…it doesn’t work that way.  Remember, others want what you want as well, and they are gonna work to get it.  You have to work and work and work to put yourself in position to take what is yours.

Forget balance, wins are much sweeter.  Pain is temporary, but Victory is forever.

Go get what’s yours…

 

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