Did you know?
Michael Jordan didn’t win an NBA championship until his 7th season
6 quarterbacks were picked before Tom Brady in the NFL draft
Li Na won her first Grand Slam singles event after 12 years on the circuit
Tim Thomas didn’t reach his NHL peak as a Goalie until he was 37
Ken Norton beat Muhammed Ali at age 30
Steve Nash didn’t achieve his MVP level status until his early thirties
Rocky Marciano didn’t start professionally boxing until he was 25
Hall of famer Charles Barkley never won an NBA Championship
Fauja Singh started marathon running at age 84
I could keep going, but I won’t. The point has already been made and you get where I’m going with all of this.
So often when we look at super star athletes and we only see the finished product. Or in some of older athletes on this list, we only hear about the accolades of their career. From this lone perspective, it’s so easy to assume and build up a belief of what a successful athlete looks like.
They’re naturally gifted…
They never fail…
They’ve always had success…
They started at a younger age…
They always had good coaches…
They didn’t have to work for it…
When it comes to mastering a sport, we forget about one the most important virtues:
We want everything now and when we see others achieve the things we want, we choose to look for external excuses as opposed to looking internally at ourselves.
In his book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success Phil Jackson describes the steps that it took for the Chicago Bulls to win an NBA championship. Prior to the 1990-91 season, M.J. and the Bulls struggled to beat bigger and stronger teams in the later rounds of playoffs. Late in games, Jordan would shy away from the triangle offense, which relied heavily on distributing the ball, and instead tried to win the game on his own.
It wasn’t until Jackson pushed Jordan towards becoming a more selfless player who trusted his teammates, that the team began to click. And in the final quarter of the 90-91 championship against the Lakers, Jordan started to deliver to the ball to one the team’s best shooters, Paxson, who hit 4 shots in a row. They ended up winning the game 108-101 and subsequently Jordan’s first championship.
The Two Things You Need
When you boil it down, if you want to succeed, patience is a necessity. But beyond that, you have to be willing to adapt.
By themselves, patience and adaptation are easy to accomplish.
Many of us are willing to try a new tactic, listen to a new idea, or develop a new skill. In the short term, most of us are up for change.
But how often does that short-term change turn into long-term behaviour change? Not often
Michael Jordan and all the other athletes listed earlier were all willing to play the long game. They understood that if they want to be successful they needed to work hard every single and be patient. Even when things weren’t going their way.
For many of them, it wasn’t until they combined that patience and persistence with a willingness to change and listen to others that they actually saw real results.
Many of you right now are grinding and working hard. You are in it for the long haul and dedicated to your craft. But you are so focused that you are missing the signs and advice around you. This tunnel vision has kept you going, but you haven’t taken the time to stop and ask if you have the right directions.
Meanwhile, some of you are willing to hear every opinion and you want the quickest road to success. You’ll do anything someone tells you and you’re ready to change course at a moments notice. Instead of constantly living in a state of change, force yourself to stick with it and be patient.
(Patience + Adaptability) is not the exact formula to great achievement, but it’s a start. If you are strong in one of these two virtues, consider pursuing the weaker one. And if you’re focused on both of them, keep on grinding.
Your time will come.