It’s easy to assume that every star athlete is naturally gifted, and yes, to a certain extent that may be true. But there is typically a more important secret to their success. It’s called practice. Take Michael Jordan for instance, the year he returned to the Bulls after his brief stint in baseball, the Bulls were eliminated in the play-offs. Jordan learned a valuable lesson, saying, “You can’t leave and think you can come back and dominate this game. I will be physically and mentally prepared from now on.” Michael Jordan realized he couldn’t coast when it comes to being a basketball champion. He resumed putting in the hard work and practice, and the next three years the Bulls won the NBA title!
Yes, Jordan may have a natural bent or inclination toward being a basketball star, but he backed it up with hard work and dedicated practice. The same is true for you and me. As much as we wish gifts and talents would just kind of show up in our lives (or in our kids’ lives), success is built through hard work and determination, not simply natural giftedness.
The legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “I believe ability can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there….It’s so easy to…begin thinking you can just ‘turn it on’ automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there.” Solomon put it this way, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”
Take some time this week to consider where you need to improve your skills, whether in business or with a hobby or even in a relationship. If you want to encounter excellence, it begins with hard work, perseverance and doing more than the average person is willing to do. Ask yourself, “What are my goals and what am I willing to do to achieve them.” Remember it doesn’t just happen.
The above quotes by Jordan and Wooten are found in the book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.