I have decided to let you in on a little secret of mine. This is my blueprint for success, in anything I do. This formula works for everything I have done in my life so far, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t work for literally everyone else on the planet. The problem is, even though I am about to spoon-feed this to you, I know most people won’t follow it. Ready?
1. Find a new goal. Make it big; audacious in fact. Define it as well as possible. Study people who are the best in this activity, learn from them, learn what to do and what not to do. Don’t pick a super gifted athlete to model yourself after, choose the guy who doesn’t have the touch of God on his side, and yet still competes at the highest level. Don’t model yourself after LeBron James if you are not going to be 6′ 8″ and 250 pounds with a 40″ vertical. Find a guard with a one-for three average on three pointers to model, as that is a more realistic fit. That level of proficiency would put you in the top 100 of the NBA guards. THAT is the model to follow. Both play in the NBA, but the skill sets are quite different…
2. Start working towards the goal. If sports, that means doing reps on the skills needed, as close to perfect as possible at this stage. If public speaking, same thing. If getting a new job, its the same thing. Perfect Practice makes Perfect. Put in the time necessary to not only learn the rote skills necessary, but to outwork others on the same quest. You need to try, and fail, and try again. You’ll have a few wins along the way, but assume there will be lots of losses. There will be more losses than wins in the beginning, and that is exactly how it should be. If you are pursuing a lofty goal, it may take you a lifetime of work before the number of wins you have outnumber the losses. If not, you may be aiming too low.
3. Refine as you go. In most cases, you will be weeding out unnecessary fluff and get down to the essence of what you need to do to accomplish the task at hand. In my racquetball career, I didn’t need to be perfect at all facets of the game, I needed to be exceptional at one particular skill, and proficient at the rest. ***Exceptional meant 75% accuracy, not perfect. That is plenty to separate you from the masses. If you reach a level of performance that is considered exceptional in two separate skill categories, you are world class. In my day job I do the same presentation to almost every client today. I have honed and refined this down to exactly the right message needed to convey what we do, how we do it, and why we are the right partner choice for the service. If my laptop malfunctions, I can do the whole presentation without notes or slides and not miss a beat. I Own This Skill.
4. Strive for a deep level of understanding. Once at a high level, you goal is within reach and you are hopefully gaining a deep level of understanding about the game/task/skill you seek, as well as yourself. You will see things differently at this stage, and need to continue to seek, push and refine. You want to achieve a level of competency that the goal switches from getting things right, to no longer getting things wrong. You will have learned to see things differently, you will be near the mountain top. The view you have will be different from the rest who are still climbing up from below.
Are you disappointed? Maybe, and if so, I know why. You were hoping for a real secret, a magic bullet that allows you to leapfrog over all others, right to the top. Please allow me to break the news to you: THERE IS NO SUCH THING. You have to work, and work hard. That’s it. There is my magic secret sauce to success.
Excellence takes time, there is no way around it.
Now, you may get lucky and land a job or wing your way through a presentation and do a decent job. However, this is luck, not skill. SKILL is a highly refined process, years in the making. You know a topic or skill backwards and forwards, you OWN it. You can rely on that skill set no matter what. Sick, tired, power outage, whatever, you can repeat those skills on your worse day. That is called Mastery. There is no way to that end destination without a crap-ton of work. You have to experience every loss, every setback, and every nuance to the task at hand before you are ready to truly master a skill. Pack lunch, grab your hard hat, and get to work. It’s the only way.
I wish you luck in your endeavor.