When watching athletes like Derek Rose, Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Apolo Ohno, Evan Lysacek, Shawn Johnson, etc., perform at levels few ever realize, you have to wonder what they have that makes them so special, so different. In other words, the essence of what gives these individuals abilities that seem unattainable for the majority of athletes.
Many, maybe most, would point to the inborn talents these athletes have as to the determining factor that sets them apart from all others. And on the surface, that would seem logical. I mean there does have to be some level of genetic potential for any athlete to reach this level of athletic greatness.
However, and this is a big however, one has to wonder how many others have the same, maybe more, genetic potential, yet, never reach the upper limits of their capabilities. So back to my original question, what is it that people like Rose, Jeter, Brees, Ohno, Lysacek, and Johnson have that truly makes the difference?
I would suggest we look much deeper than merely one’s talent to find the answer. From my viewpoint, that specific attribute [talent] has a lot less impact on what one is able to accomplish, athletic or otherwise, than what most believe. If you are a regular to my blog, you already know I am talking about attributes that come from the inside. Characteristics that are intrinsic in nature (and not necessarily genetic) that govern our attitude, and thus our actions. Take a good look at the first four of my Nine Attributes Necessary For Athletic Greatness listed below. Don’t be surprised if your opinion shifts away from the “talent is everything” perspective once you’ve finished Part II coming out in my next post.
1. Commitment: A powerful devotion to something. It is the essence of dedication as one feels some level of emotional discomfort when not honoring and demonstrating action toward a commitment one has. Athletic greats, they are personally and professionally committed to the task that creates the opportunity for them to become who and what they are.
2. Discipline: The act of consistently holding oneself to a certain course of action, most times, in order to honor one’s commitments. This action is taken even in the face of difficulty or adversity, is relentless in nature, and can take on a form of having to force oneself to do what needs to be done. Discipline, as explained here, is second nature to the highest level athletes.
3. Sacrifice: The willingness to forgo other wants and desires in order to honor one’s commitments. From an athletic standpoint, it is tied closely to discipline as making a sacrifice does not occur without some level of self-restraint. It is unlikely, if not impossible, for athletic greatness to be achieved without sacrifices being made along the way.
4. Strong Work Ethic: An ability to apply great effort to a task. These labors are an important factor in the high levels of success great athletes achieve. Working hard is simply part of the plan for them.
Part II: Nine Attributes Necessary For Athletic Greatness out Friday this week.