I’ve thought a lot about what is necessary to be successful – specifically what separates those that achieve their goals from those who fall short. There are many factors to success, but one of the defining characteristics I’ve seen in the students and athletes I’ve worked with over the years is consistent execution at the right level.
To use an analogy, let’s imagine that achieving a goal takes 100% focus and commitment. By that measure, if you do 100% of what is necessary then you will be successful. What’s interesting is that surprisingly few people execute at this level and, more often than not, this is why they fail. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the various levels of execution and what the outcome is when people operate at them. Before we continue, I should warn you I am going to put things quite bluntly here. The fact of the matter is a lot of people fall outside the parameters of success, either because of lack of desire, effort, or possibly even understanding. Sometimes it even comes from trying too hard. The purpose of defining the various levels isn’t to categorize people negatively, but rather to draw a clear line in the sand between what is necessary to achieve your goals and what will lead to failure.
To start off, let’s look at people at the low end of the spectrum. These are people who see a goal and the head towards it, but they don’t really commit. They move forward timidly, and so they end up failing. Consequently they become Losers. There, I said it. A bit harsh perhaps, but let’s call it like it is. Losers execute at 80% or less. They never have success because they aren’t willing to do what is necessary.
Posers execute at the 80-90% level. To the lay-person, it may appear that there is little difference between people who operate at this level and those who are truly successful. Posers talk the talk and they look good, but they don’t really walk the walk. 80-90 percenters tend to over-exaggerate what they are capable of. They never achieve anything meaningful because as soon as things get hard they stop moving forward. At the end of the day, though, Posers don’t really care. They look good without actually being good, so they are happy.
Tryers execute at 90-100%. They give their best effort, but when they come up short they shrug their shoulders and say things like, “It wasn’t meant to be,” or “I did my best.” Both of which are just lame excuses. Being philosophical after failure is for people who have become so used to it that they try to make themselves feel better by trying to put things into perspective. In contrast, when successful people fail they immediately want to assess their problems and figure out what will move them forward. Tryers don’t do that. They assign blame everywhere but with themselves, accept no responsibility for their actions, and make a lot of excuses. People at this level will drive themselves (and everyone around them) crazy, because they are always “so close”. But, they never quite get there. People at this level either need to shut up and do things all the way, or move on to something else. Hanging out at this level is perhaps the saddest sort of purgatory because people get stuck here for years – they keep trying and continually keep coming up short.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who do way too much. People who do 120% or more of what’s necessary are Stupid. These people tend to injure themselves a lot and are always trying something new and crazy. People like this may seem impressive at first because they are so passionate and intense, but they are irresponsible and can’t follow through. At first, their excitement can carry them over seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but as soon as their interest starts to fade they are derailed by the slightest challenge. Stupid people fail because their is no thought to their actions.
Burn-outs execute at 110-120%. They get overexcited and do too much too soon. They look great at first, but they set themselves on a path that is unsustainable. When they are supposed to do 60 minutes worth of work they do 90. This type of overachieving catches up to them before long, however, and they fall apart a short time later. One hit wonders, people with too much ego, young ‘talents’, people with bad coaches, and similar fit into this category. Burn-outs may have success at first, but they fail in the long run because they take ten steps forward and eleven steps back.
Indecisive people bounce back and forth between the various levels. Their lack of consistency is what kills them. The go from panicked excitement to a lack of discipline and back again all without really getting anywhere. This in turn kills their confidence. Indecisive people can make progress over a long period of time, but it’s a slow process because when they move forward ten steps, they’ll turn right around and take nine and a half back. Indecisive people can be successful only if they are committed to the process for years (even decades) and they have someone in their life who is constantly on them to keep moving forward.
|Success comes from execution.|
Successful people execute at exactly 100%. They do what they need to do and leave it at that. No more, no less. If they are supposed to spend 10,000 hours working on something or do a 60 minute workout then that’s what they’ll do. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how much fun they are having or trying to put things into perspective. If they stumble, they get up and keep moving forward. They don’t complain much, but even when they do they still get everything done that they need to.
“You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Champions execute at 100-110%. They do what’s necessary, plus a little more. Where Losers make excuses after the fact, Champions find a way to get things done. When they hit a wall they find a way to go through it. They are relentless. If they make a mistake they take responsibility for it and work on addressing the underlying problem. They are at their best when things are at their most difficult. Champions are tough, big picture oriented, and intelligent. They make good use of their strengths and know their limits. They aren’t afraid to ask questions or let other people handle things that they aren’t good at. They have enough ego to believe they can accomplish whatever they set out to do, but they also have enough humility to recognize that they can’t do it on their own. Champions dream big dreams and then find a way to make them come true.
Looking back at the levels I’ve just mentioned, think about where you fall. If you want to accomplish your goals then you have to consistently hang out in a very narrow range of execution. Not only that, but you have to go out there and do it day after day, year after year. The bigger the goal the more you will have to work at it. Big dreams are possible to achieve, but you have to know what it takes to accomplish them and then execute at the level of a Champion.
Author: Coach Jordan Itaya