Recalling an insight from Denis Waitley.
On and off over the years I’ve been into motivational books and speakers. One of the speaker/writers I used to listen to was Denis Waitley. I hadn’t thought about him in at least a decade it seems, but a trigger thought this morning led me to pull his book Empires of the Mind off my shelf.
The thought had to do with goal setting and sacrifice. Why I thought of Waitley was because among other things he coached Olympic athletes, and had much to say about what it takes to be a champion. Naturally, developing a champion’s mindset applies to many other aspects of life.
I recalled to mind a story I heard him tell once about a young Australian swimmer, maybe 14 or so, who was totally committed to earning and wearing a gold medal. She was a darling of the media because of her spirit, and displayed an incredible confidence for one so you. And she indeed brought home a gold medal for her nation.
The thought I had was how competing for a gold against the world’s best requires mountains of sacrifice. You don’t just waltz into it. By sacrifice I mean suffering.
The corollary thought I had was more of a question. Do we tend to drift, to not live sacrificially, because our life goals are vague and undefined? This young Aussie knew exactly what she wanted. Can we accomplish big things if we don’t have a well defined aim?
In one place Waitley writes, “Scarcely one person in a thousand puts his or her time to anywhere near its potential good use.”
And on another page he writes, “Most people prefer to do just enough to get by. Reading and learning seem just too much like hard work. They’d rather get home than get ahead.”
The new thought that I had was this one. For Olympic athletes striving to win medals it may be a little easier to make painful sacrifices, to push oneself when every “normal” person is just doing “enough to get by.” The reason? They know what they want and they know that it will require sacrifices to reach their goal.
For the rest of us, it might be a little harder because we’re often not sure what we really want.
In 1993 I was an extra in the film Iron Will. I pitched a movie idea to the Disney producer Robert Schwartz that ultimately led to my writing a script that he promised to read.
Simultaneously, I had pitched a book idea to Thomas Nelson a few days before the filming of Iron Will. The same week that Robert Schwartz called to confirm his interest in the screenplay, the VP of Thomas Nelson offered me an assignment for a book project.
I was working full time so it would be an extremely challenging six months, but the deadlines (August 1 and October 1) were achieved, while working full time at a day job. By setting weekly goals and doing “whatever it takes” I was able to accomplish more than I ever imagined.
Do you have well-defined goals? Are they big goals so that they stretch you? Are they important enough to make sacrifices for?
Today it’s Super Bowl LIII and you can be sure that the players on both teams playing today have worked hard for this moment. The Patriots’ Bill Belichick
demands a lot from his players. Then again, his players know that it’s that demanding work ethic that brings this team to the big dance year after year. Along with the possibility of a ring, a ring that must be earned. By sacrifice.
What’s the “ring” or “trophy” in your field of endeavor? How badly do you want it? Let’s do it.