The Only Shortcut
We often hear that there are no shortcuts in life to get where we want to be. It takes hard work, it takes experience, mistakes. There isn’t a magic door that you can open to add skill in the areas you seek. But there is one thing that can significantly speed up the process. Find a mentor.
A mentor is someone who is already where you aspire to be. Most importantly, they have been where you are now, and they know what it took to “succeed” and sit where they now sit. Find someone with like goals and passion who is willing to help you overcome obstacles, share their past mistakes, and encourage you when you feel inadequate or far away from your goals. We can learn so much from studying what they have done, and “copying” it to help us find our way. A good mentor can remind you that your problems aren’t new or unique.
Athletes, find of a player that is where you want to be (varsity level, college player, etc.). Study what they did to get there. If they are accessible to you, ask them how they got there and what they would have done differently or what mistakes they made. They can provide you with guidance, strategy, motivation. Even if this is a professional player that you respect, find the books and videos about them that describe their journey, their work ethic, and the decisions they made that led them to a career in sports. Pay attention, and study and learn from those who are where you want to be!
"One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination." -John C. Maxwell
Failure is Feedback
Every time we come up short, we have an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure scares us, leading us to believe we are not enough or that we aren’t as good as others. But this is just negative thinking. Failure is just a lesson, a chance to learn and see what we can do better next time.
If we start to treat failure as feedback, and not as a value statement on who we are or what we are capable of, it becomes a huge tool for growth. I fail to finish a project on time, and the lesson is that I need to prioritize better and work on my time management (feedback for growth). My team loses a game and we go 10-18 from the foul line and couldn’t rebound, there’s a lesson that we need to recommit to rebounding and work on our free throws. These are lessons that can make us better players, better students, better people.
The faster we fail, and the more we see it as feedback, the quicker we will get where we want to go. Getting better is all about failing, but we must approach these failures as steps to becoming great, as feedback that helps us. The best of the best fail often because they are living outside of their comfort zone. Don’t fear these shortcomings, but live a life where you can fail often and use the feedback to get better every time.
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -Michael Jordan
Develop Your “Slight Edge”
I recently finished reading Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge and it really challenged me to think about how my simple daily decisions have an effect on my future. The small habits we don’t think about compound over time and lead us to where we want to go, or not. Olson writes about a way of thinking, the “slight edge”, where each little choice you make matters, even though we act like it’s just the big decisions that change things in our lives.
This book is built from common sense, but it also dramatically portrays how much we tend to undervalue the simple easy decisions, and in the end they decide much of where we get to in life. Here are a few examples demonstrating the slight edge…
Basketball player: You commit to doing 5 minutes of ball handling every day. After one month, that is 2.5 hours of added ball handling improvement to your game. After a year, that is over 30 hours of ball handling, and no question your game will improve as your handle is tighter and you are more confident. (Or, you don’t think it’s that important each morning and you do it twice a week some weeks, once a week some weeks, and take the season off because you are playing at practice every day anyway. At the end of a year, you have done 6.5 hours of ball handling on your own…likely feeling little improvement)
Parent: You commit to being healthier as a family and you are going to exercise 20 minutes every day. You make time to run in the morning, go to the gym during lunch, or walk the dog in the evening each day. You skip a few days here and there, but you are really consistent. At the end of a month, you have more energy, you model healthy behavior for your family, and you can feel your fitness increase. (Or, you don’t commit to a workout plan, you exercise a few times a week, when you feel like it, and your gains are average and inconsistent.)
Personal Improvement: You commit to reading just ten pages of a book each day (this takes 6-10 minutes). At the end of a month, you have read at least a whole book. At the end of the year, you have read twelve books, adding knowledge in areas you are interested in. Just think if you doubled it to twenty pages! (Or, you read every once in awhile, on Sundays, and you read a new book or two (maybe) in a year.)
I would encourage you to find this book and read it. Because it is so applicable and clearly explained, it truly is a book for anyone, at any point in their life (high school student, parent, retiree). Here are my book notes if you want to read more and see some of my takeaways from reading it.
"Get Better" is our PEAK blog, providing you with content to help enhance your game, your mind, and your relentless pursuit of the process! Enjoy.
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