The Fight Against Mediocrity

There are a lot of things we are about average at.
Walking, typing, driving, reading, these are just some of the skills that required some learning and repetition to become adequate at.
Once you reached a level of proficiency, you were probably content to stay right where you were skill-wise forever.
Academics, athletics, and our professions are three other areas where a vast majority of people must initially work to become competent.
From there, most people seem just fine being good enough.
Some people, though, want to be great.
And, surprisingly, there are really just two life skills that separate the ones who are destined for excellence from everyone else.
Hard work and attention to detail.
Let me explain how each plays out in both an academic and athletic environment.
Academic: "I'm terrible at math!"
Athletic: "I'm just not fast."
The average student or athlete uses these excuses as reasons to justify their inaction.
It can be comforting to think there's nothing you can do about it when you see a skill that you struggle with.
Someone bound for greatness would also accept their shortcoming, but would add "right now" to the end of each sentence.
You're terrible at math right now?
Fine, reach out for extra help from a teacher or tutor. Put in some extra time practicing what is hard.
You're too slow right now? Too weak? Too uncoordinated?
Find a coach who can show you what to work on. Go out and do some extra work on your own. Stay on track with whatever training program you follow.
The difference between the two mindsets is that the average person does not take action, but the ones seeking out greatness actually go out and do something about it.
Hard work is a mindset, a belief that you are in control of your destiny and can use the right type of effort to change your future.
The second, and equally critical skill, is attention to detail.
Talent researchers refer to this as 'dedicated practice' or 'deliberate practice'.
The average student or athlete does just enough to get by. They show up and do what is expected, perhaps thinking there isn't anything more they can do.
Those bound for greatness can use that same hour of practice or study and get 10 times more benefit.
They achieve this simply by locking in mentally to every last detail.
They're acutely aware of how something feels. They listen closely for coaching advice they can apply to get better. They welcome feedback, and are engaged enough to file it away and remember what they learn for future use.
In short, they get more development for the same amount of time and effort as the average person receives.
They also pick up on little details that give them a massive advantage.
A powerful example of this involves former tennis start Andre Agassi.
In the early 90's Agassi was an up and coming tennis talent but struggled mightily against another of the world's best - Boris Becker.
After losing a series of matches to Becker, mostly because of his incredible serve, Agassi noticed that Becker stuck his tongue out in the direction of where he'd serve the ball just before doing so.
No one else in the sport noticed this, yet Agassi did. On the outside it appeared his reaction time improved dramatically, but really it was his incredible focus on the little things that gave him the edge.
The result was a complete reversal of fortune against Becker (he won 10 of 11 matches after). Agassi became the world's #1 ranked player soon after.
That is the power of being detail driven and fully focused on the task at hand.
Mediocre performers don't pick up on things like that, because they allow other distractions to cloud their focus.
For every coach, athlete or student who wants to excel, use these two powerful weapons in the fight against mediocrity - hard work and attention to detail - in all your future endeavors.

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