// you’re reading...

Deliberate Practice

Inspiring Others With Your Habits

Yesterday I worked with a high school basketball team, and began by asking the players to rate, on a scale of one to 10, how hard they had been working so far this season.

Not one of them rated herself as more than an eight on the effort scale. One of them gave herself a five. A five !?!? This came as a particular surprise because this young woman has a reputation for being a very serious athlete.

When I asked her why she could only give herself a five, she replied, “I haven’t given until it hurts yet.”

After the session, two questions struck me. First, why could no one give herself more than an eight? After all, effort requires no talent. It doesn’t matter how big or fast you are.

Second, I wondered what the young woman meant by, “I haven’t given until it hurts yet.” What is holding her back?

But certainly her use of the word of the word “hurt” makes sense in the context of practice. Improvement hurts. It involves being uncomfortable. In fact, the world’s greatest performers are uncomfortable a lot of the time.

In deliberate practice, performers are working just outside their area of competence. It’s like trying to speak a different language in a foreign country. It’s awkward and even painful.

But this is what it takes to grow. And that is why the young woman has a lot of company. How many people are willing to give until it hurts?

Roy Halladay, an ace pitcher in the news yesterday as part of blockbuster trade discussions among the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, owns a reputation for being an exceptional worker. His habits apparently rubbed off on A.J. Burnett, a former Toronto  teammate who finally has put all his talent together.

Maybe that’s what the team I spoke to yesterday needs: someone whose work habits are so powerful they rub off on teammates. I have a feeling there is such a player on the team; but she must step forward.


No comments for “Inspiring Others With Your Habits”

Post a comment