Anyone who’s ever tried out for a basketball team has heard the phrase, “You can’t teach height.” Like it or not, you won’t be able to find a diet or insane workout plan to give you the athleticism of LeBron James or the speed of Usain Bolt.
Luckily, though, the world is full of examples of elite athletes who made do with less-than-otherworldly natural talents. Take NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, the Boston Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia, or even Lionel Messi, one of the two or three greatest soccer (or football) players in the world.
What we gain from these athletes is an insight into the type of work ethic necessary to be great. Hard work is the great equalizer—not everybody is born with the same natural talents, but with enough hustle, you’ll find you’re capable of much more than you might expect.
Let’s face it, though—hard work is just that: hard. Anybody can go for one run, go to the batting cages for 20 minutes, or play a quick game of pick-up basketball on the weekend. The challenge lies in being able to go at it day after day, without any drop-off in tenacity or drive.
Unfortunately, we can’t instill in anyone the work ethic and drive necessary to maximize their lives. If we could, everybody would be great, wouldn’t they? What we can do, though, is give you 5am.ers a glimpse into the everyday routines of some of the most dedicated and elite athletes in the world.
Be Inspired By Your Doubters
In the year 2000, an uninspiring quarterback received the following scouting report after his showing at the NFL Combine: “Poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and strength… gets knocked down easily.” That quarterback? 5 time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady.
Nobody has ever achieved greatness without overcoming people who didn’t believe in them. What separates the average Joe from a 5am.er is how we react to those who don’t believe in us. Instead of letting doubters get you down, use their words as motivation to prove them wrong.
Get Rid of Potential
If you ask coaches what the least favorite thing they like to hear about a player is, they’ll often answer with something about potential. The reason being, if all you can say about an athlete is that they have potential, it means he or she hasn’t worked hard enough to turn that potential into actual skill.
The only way to realize your potential is to never settle. Greatness is never attained by those who aren’t willing to work overtime to achieve it. Ray Allen is known as one of the best shooters in the history of basketball. He wouldn’t leave practice until he’d hit 100 free throws in a row. If he missed one, he’d start over. It is this type of drive that you’ll need to turn potential into skill.
Never Get Complacent
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Good is the enemy of great?” Odds are, your favorite athletes have heard it as well, and apply it to their training every day. Even though they’ve risen to the highest levels of their professions, they still keep at it.
Odds are, as you keep working and improving, you’ll get to a point where you’re good at what you do. In fact, you may even get to a point where you’re better than most everyone else at what you do. If you allow yourself to stop—to be satisfied with the work you’ve put in, you’ll never achieve what you’re capable of.
Every great athlete knows they’re great. Do you think Ronaldo stays up at night wondering if he’s actually any good at soccer? What these athletes are able to do, though, is motivate themselves to improve even when they’re better than the competition.
Love What You Do
No amount of work can compensate for a lack of genuine passion and love for your chosen craft. In fact, without a love for what you do, there’s no way you’ll be able to muster up the motivation to put in the work required to be great.
Besides, even if you could manage to develop a skill that you didn’t really care about, would it even do you any good? We don’t think so. Loving something doesn’t mean it’ll be simple—it probably means that you’ll have more hard days than easy ones, actually. But if your work and training goes into something you’re passionate about, it will be worth it in the end.
Let’s Get Started
When is the right time to get started on your path to greatness? There’s no better time than the present. So set some goals, and make them lofty. Get to work, and never quit. If people don’t believe in you? Good. Prove them wrong.