Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Outwork Your Talent

Imagine the possibilities. Imagine breaking through barriers and reaching heights you never thought you could reach... The greatest limitations we face are those we place on ourselves. Sometimes we do this consciously, sometimes we do this subconsciously. We allow ourselves to draw a line in the sand that we will not cross. We tell ourselves this is as far as I can go, so I will limit myself to this point. We draw this line subconsciously  through a sense of entitlement. We think we have arrived so we become stagnant or lazy. We are not willing to work for what we want... We may have all the desires in the world, but when our effort doesn't match our desire, we will certainly fail.

I recently ran into a friend of mine in the coaching world at the Austin Airport. I asked him about a quarterback he had that I recruited back in 2007. This kid had all the tools you could want. He was 6-3, 230 pounds, ran a consistent 4.65 40, and could throw a ball 60 yards. At worst he was going to make a great tight end or defensive end. His coach warned me the kid did not have a great work ethic. The kid was late for practice at least once a week and did not come to workouts in the summer. We decided to pass on recruiting him.

Fast forward six years to the Austin Airport. I asked coach where this young man ended up. The grocery store. Huh? The grocery store where he stocks shelves at night. Despite having all the talent to be a BCS football player, this kid's attitude and work ethic got in the way of his success. When he got to high school he was better than everyone else. Because of this, he thought he didn't have to work hard. His coaches thought they had a kid who would be a big-time football player who would lead them to a state championship. What they actually had was a young man who would lead his team to a 4-5 season as a senior. This sure fire prospect had turned into a suspect by his senior year. He went to a small NAIA school where he lasted three weeks. His attitude had not improved, and the coaching staff had seen enough. This is a kid who said he wanted to play in the NFL, but his work ethic and attitude did not match his desire.

This happens all too often in the world of athletics. Every coach at all levels has stories about kids that wasted their talent. Instead of working hard to develop their talent, they think they can get by on their talent. They think because they are a better athlete that they can be lazy and just get by. This works for a while... until the pond starts getting bigger. At some point your poor attitude and lack of work ethic will catch up to you. 

The goal of every athlete should be to outwork your talent. In fact, that should be the goal of everyone, regardless of the endeavor. Work ethic and attitude are choices. They are not given to you by someone else. They are not willed to you or passed along genetically. You have complete control over your attitude and work ethic. You can control whether you get the most out of your talent. If you fight to outwork your talent every single day, you will be the best that you are capable of being. And that will translate into success.

On the other side of the coin are the kids who have less talent, but they outwork their talent every single day. You have guys that work so hard that they improve and pass by more talented athletes. We all have numerous stories about these guys. They are the guys that are going to reach pinnacles in life because they know how to overcome obstacles. They are never satisfied where they are and they keep pushing themselves.

The final group is the group that is, unfortunately, very rare. This is the group of very talented athletes who have a great work ethic. These are guys everyone else feeds off of. They are the special players that make everyone else around them better. They are the guys that play a big part in the success of a program. These guys are game changers on the field and in the locker room. They are guys that never miss a workout. They are guys that never skip a rep. They are guys that are going to do more than what is expected. These guys embrace the grind of being the best. These are the players that get a chance to play on Sundays. 

This is what we as coaches are working to do each day. We are finding ways to inspire you to do more than you think you can. We are trying to get you out of your comfort zone so you can stretch yourself to reach new heights. We are creating adverse situations where you learn to overcome obstacles and deal with pain. We are trying to get you to realize that your talent doesn't matter if you aren't willing to be responsible to your teammates. 

Here are six specific things you can do to outwork your talent. 

1. Be There
2. Be On-Time
3. Do every rep with a great attitude
4. Embrace adversity
5. Help Your Teammates Be the Best They Can Be
6. Care About Your Teammates

1. You have to be there to be successful. While just showing up will not make you successful, not showing up will guarantee failure.

2. It takes zero talent to be on-time. Being on time is about self-discipline. It is about showing others you respect and value them. On a team it means you understand your are responsible to others and they can depend on you.

3. This is the toughest part for most young people. They get tired and they decide to cut one or two reps. Everyone gets tired. Mediocre people justify not completing the workout. Great players understand that growth takes place when you face stress and pressure. This is where mental toughness comes in. When you are fatigued and you have one more set, are you going to make a CHOICE to do every rep? Are you going to CHOOSE to do an extra rep? Are you going to CHOOSE to finish the drill?  

Champions are not made on Friday Nights. Champions are made in February and March. Champions are made in June and July. There is something very powerful about pushing through and completing a drill when you are exhausted. There is something very powerful of knowing your teammate is willing to do that for you.

4. Everyone does well when things are easy. How do you handle things when they aren't going your way? How do you handle your coach telling you we have five more sets? How do you handle your coach calling you out because you aren't putting forth your best effort? How do you handle your coach or teammate telling you your not getting deep enough on squat? Do you choose to improve or do you choose to give up?

5. Great players are willing to do whatever it takes to make those around them better. This is what separates good players from great players. Good players make themselves better. Great players intentionally make those around them better. You will never reach your full potential until you help your teammates reach theirs.

6. It is much easier to overcome adversity when you have a group of people with a common goal. You need to encourage your teammates to work hard and that you have their back. You will not let them fail. This is where great teams are made. They are made because guys cared about their teammate more than they cared about themselves.

Every single day you have to be willing to put forth the attitude, effort, and enthusiasm to reach your goals. You have to be willing to work harder to do more than what your talent says you can do. If you outwork your talent, you will break through barriers to reach new heights. At the end of the day, you will know you reached your full capabilities. 



4 comments:

  1. Well said!!! I'll be passing this on to my athletes and middle school students. If they don't know how to work they cant get anywhere. On the field or in the classroom.

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  2. I am glad you found this post helpful. Let me know how it goes!

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  3. Great stuff coach. Definitely something I will share with my players as well as my own kids.

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