Recently I have been pondering this question.
What does it take if you want to compete with the very best in any field?
Often we see the result, not the preparation.
We see Michael Phelps dive into a pool and swim like no-one has swum before, but we don’t necessarily see the pain it took him to get there.
We see the mountaineer on the summit but we don’t see the months of hard training or all the minute little details- decisions about equipment, timings and risk that helped them reach their goal.
We see the astronaut when all the preparations have been made for their space flight, but we don’t see them taking endless physical and mental tests to even be considered for the space programme.
We also don’t see how everyone had to go through the first stage of the journey. At one point (though it seems unbelievable to us now) Michael Phelps couldn’t swim.
Or the highest thing the mountaineer had climbed was the tree in their local park.
To be the best it takes a lot of work. Not any work, it takes focused work. You have to make the thing that you choose to focus on the thing you spend the most time obsessing about.
Even then, it might not work. This week I read about a remarkable man called Dan McLaughlin. At the age of 30, Dan, who had never even played a full round of golf, decided to try to become a professional golfer. You can find out his story here. Despite the amazing lengths he went to, his didn’t achieve his dream, though I bet he learned some lessons- and he certainly helped the rest of us to learn some lessons on the way.
Aside from a lot of practice, what else matters if you want to be the best? Here are some ideas.
What does being the best look like for you?
What do you want to be the best at? Do you even want to be the best- are you prepared for that sacrifice or would you prefer to have a more balanced life?
Once you have answers to these questions it will help you to be a better influencer, because you will have a clearer path ahead of you.
Perhaps you want to be the best- but you don’t want to be the best in the world. Being the best in your country, your city, your town or even your village may bring you fulfilment and a great living.
Or, perhaps you can identify the things where you don’t want to be the best, you want to be your best.
For example, when people try to get fit, only a small percentage of them are aspiring to be as fit an an Olympian. Most people just want to see some improvements compared to what they were like before. Perhaps they set a target like trying to run a certain distance in a certain time- I’ve done this myself- but they aren’t wanting to set a world-beating time, just one that they are happy with.
What are the areas where you want to challenge yourself to be the best? How do you know that you are setting yourself goals that are realistic but which stretch you?
Plus, how can you help other people be the best? It is very likely that you can help other people reach their goals, whether you have a skill that you can teach them or you can encourage them with a kind word. If you have a shared goal, maybe you can even achieve it together.
We’ve seen how being ‘the best’ can mean so many things but the important thing is to work out what it means for you in your own life and then go from there.