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Beating the Odds

Deciding to Be Great

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Those words of Abraham Lincoln came to mind last night in the gym as I watched practice. Except I would like to paraphrase the famous president. What if we put it this way:

“Most people are about as skilled as they make up their minds to be.”

Does that sound too radical? Could it possibly be true that you’re exactly as skilled as you make up your mind to be?

Watching the athletes practice made me think that it’s true. So many people settle for less during practice. They refuse to leave their comfort zone. They ignore feedback. They give up after only a few tries. So in a very real sense, they wind up exactly as skilled as they make up their mind to be.

I can hear the objections now. You’re saying, “I’d like to be much more skilled than I am.”

Yes, but WANTING to be skilled and MAKING UP YOUR MIND to be skilled are two different things. Way different.

There’s more to practice than just practice. The drills don’t matter nearly as much as a conscious effort to improve. Nothing takes the place of real determination to get better, an insistence on getting the most out of the practice time.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned,” said Leonardo da Vinci. Some people abandon it sooner than others.

Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird spent hours in the gym. He wasn’t just passing those hours, he was mining them for everything he could. When Bird finished practice, he was a better player than when he began. He said, “I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.”

“Most people are about as skilled as they make up their minds to be.” I really believe that.

How skilled are you?


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