Seth Godin’s blog post from a few days ago talking about the 4% difference maker really had me thinking. I know what he was trying to say but I really don’t think he is on point here. I can only surmise he was trying to let his readers know that the small things really matter....that the small little details can add up to the big gains that can make the difference between winning and losing no matter what type of competition you may find yourself in.
Here is why I think he is wrong. I spent the better part of 16 years of my live as a very competitive athlete in high school, college, and post collegiately. I had the opportunity to train with a number of athletes who went on to make olympic teams in their respective sports. Reviewing their training and comparing it to mine here is what I found. I don't think if I had trained 4% harder over those years I would be an olympian today. Let me use my good friend, Tony Cosey, as an example. Tony was a multiple time All-American at the University of Tennessee in cross country and track and made the 2000 olympic team in the steeple chase. I too was a runner at the University of Tennessee and ran the steeple chase. There were many weeks that in my training log I ran as many miles as Tony and did exactly what he did however, I never made an olympic team. If I use Seth’s analogy too literally I might mistakenly assume that if I had done 4% more maybe I would have made it to the olympics. I know this not to be the case. Let's take pure talent out of the equation. I believe the biggest difference maker is consistency. Tony followed the same routine and worked hard day in and day out for years and consistently was able to do this better than anyone I knew and thus over time the results speak for themselves.
There are hundreds of athletes around the country today that can run the same workouts and run the same miles that Tony ran and they will never be an olympian. The difference is because Tony had the drive and work ethic to have a dream and consistently work to achieve that goal every day until he did while others got side tracked, tired, and quit. I don’t say this to take away from his great talent or his God given ability. I just think his tenacious consistency to his goal was far more important that him doing 4% more work than me or his competitors.
My dad always taught me growing up that champions consistently do what non-champions are not willing to do. I think many times it is the little details, the small things, that add up to be the big difference maker. I think this is what Seth Godin was trying to say. To me, if you are on the right track in sports or in your career it is the ability to consistently stay there and do those things that will in the long run make you a champion. Everyone wants to win on the day of the race but it is the person who puts in the hard work and preparation months in advance that will eventually come out victorious. Maybe this is just semantics and we are saying the same thing or my thesis could be entirely wrong. What is your opinion?
Here is an article that I think you all will enjoy. It was forwarded to me by our Chief Legal Counsel Kevin Thompson who was an All-American decathlete at the University of Tennessee. This was written by author Malcolm Gladwell and this really hits the point home. This comes from his new book Outliners and I think you all will enjoy it. He comes to the conclusion that "outliners" are made through consistency over time which equates to 10,000 hours of work. This is really interesting to see how he put this all together using people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mozart.