“Give me forty minutes of effort, that’s all I’m asking for.”
This was what I recently asked of from one of my basketball players before his workout. I knew he was elsewhere mentally (focus and work ethic weren’t high on his list), but I also knew he needed to get his work done or else his head coach would sit him without hesitation. This kid is talented (I mean big time, could be playing on ESPN in two years talented), but as the saying goes, “Nothing is more common than unfulfilled potential.”
Some people get it, but unfortunately many don’t. Once you’ve grown accustomed to getting by on natural ability, it can be hard to swallow that you have to WORK to advance. It may be cliché, but it’s true that nothing worth having comes easy. This isn’t limited to sports or athletes either. Hell, I want to become the best professional I possibly can, and in my efforts lose out on several small joys – TV, movies, going out every weekend, etc – so I can bury my face in a book or research journal. At times, it’s awful and I question whether I truly want to succeed that badly or if it’s worth it. After all, above average is still pretty good, right? Why not settle for that? It’ll free up an hour or two a day that I can spend vegging out in front of the TV or going out for a drink. Why not?
It’s simple – because anyone can do that. Anyone can say, “This is too much…I don’t feel like it” or any of a million other excuses. It takes strength and determination to deny those voices in your head and do what must be done. Two thoughts enter my mind whenever I am exhausted and question whether I really want to finish this workout or that chapter.
Find the Strength
Pretty simple really. Find the strength to do what’s necessary, when it must be done, and the best way possible. Dan John made a great point in his book Never Let Go, many recovering addicts (or anyone attempting to make a life change) face a challenge as a whole and get overwhelmed. Break it down to small pieces and, as cheesy as it sounds, take it a day at a time. Dan summed it up best by basically saying – “tomorrow I’ll break from my new routine and go back to my old habits, but not today” (I say basically because I forgot the exact wording and couldn’t find the page with it). Give in tomorrow, but not today. Find the strength to get through today, and when tomorrow comes, find the strength again.
Average is Below Me
This may come across as egotistical, but I believe that if I am merely average in what I do, I’ve failed. I hold myself to higher standards than that and except the same from all of my athletes. If you settle for average, then you aren’t worth my time to train. If I settle for average, I’m not worth your money to pay for my services. Anybody can do average, bust your ass and do something special.
This isn’t to say that every workout has to be a record breaker to be a success, or that I believe I am perfect in any way (far from it, in fact), but rather the focus should be to strive for excellence instead of settling for mediocrity. Some days, the absolute best you have to give will be less than ideal (sick, stressed over work or loved ones, sleep deprived, etc), but still get everything you can from that day under those conditions. With the athlete I mentioned above, that was not the case. He was being lazy and didn’t want to work. There is nothing more frustrating in this field than watching a young talent blow an opportunity because he or she failed to put in the effort. On the flip side, there is nothing more rewarding to me as a coach than to see one of my less genetically gifted athletes take their lazy counterparts opportunities after busting their ass. It’s the difference between recognizing that doors close and expecting them to be held open indefinitely.
I can’t tell you whether that basketball player will ever figure it out and recognize his potential – only time will tell – but I can tell you that for forty minutes, I had his attention and effort and got every bit out of him that I could. If athletes can take anything from this, it’s two thoughts – 1) It doesn’t take any skill to work hard, and 2) Just because you’re not at 100% doesn’t mean you can’t give every ounce of effort you do have.
If I can ever do anything for you, your athletes, or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me at anytime.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES