Are elite level athletes born, or are they made? Are people who excel at things in life just that special? I have asked and studied and asked again. And it always comes back to this… Greatness can easily be born, but certainly, with the right tools, can also be created. Having skills is helpful. But learning how to be great isn’t the hardest thing to learn. There is one thing that I believe is harder. And perhaps needs to be taught in just the right way.
What makes most athletes great? (Or everyday person who just wants more out of life)
The will to win. And when I say that, I am often met with this question: What is it and how do I get one? The will to win sounds like something you can maybe find in a cereal box…. something that’s on a piece of paper somewhere eluding you. If only you could find where you hid it, which notebook you stuffed it in three years ago, you would have no worries when you prepare to play or to do something big in your life. It’s not that easy… Or is it?
What does it take to win, to succeed at the highest level? Desire? Strength? Commitment? Or a combination of all of that and then some? Have you ever wondered if some people just simply “wanted it more?”
I have watched and played in countless hours of athletic competitions in my life. It always amazes me how so often the “unknown” comes up big, or the underdog takes the trophy much to everyone’s surprise. How does it happen? I believe strongly in the will To win. I believe that if you want something bad enough you can often times get it… with all the right pieces of course. This is not to say that if you are the worst team in the league you will win the world series just because you want to. No… it’s far more than that.
The will to win is something that happens when the game is on the line. It’s that line you cross when there is no turning back. Like you have no choice… It’s diving for third with no worry about the outcome. It’s making a “web-gem” type play in the bottom of the 7th with no outs and bases loaded. It’s kicking it into overdrive when you HAVE to. So, when is the “have to” moment? Why do people all of a sudden become masters of the very game it seems when they are about to lose?
This is deep… and I sit here playing with so many reasons and scenarios in my mind, allowing it to come out of my fingers the way I feel it. Here is my answer: some athletes or teams just want it more. Simple. The end… but how do you measure that? You don’t. You play the game and on any given day, some people just put it together better. So why in the big games is it turned up? Because it means more? The outcome is bigger, on a bigger stage in front of more people? Yes, I believe that is part of it. I know that in the big games, when the adrenaline is pumping, the will to win kicks in, and for some it’s a full tank, other’s just half full. It’s desire. Some people have more of that than others. Not too surprising. This all seems so simple, doesn’t it? But how can that change…. how can we create more? Can we? Is it the reason why we want to win? Think of the big things in your life that you need to conquer, the thing you want to do so badly, and you want to succeed at…
I strongly believe that it often times comes when we least expect it, as so many other things in life do. When we aren’t pressing, or we aren’t worrying about who is going to score or who will get the credit. There can be a good argument why playing on a well-gelled team is nothing short of extraordinary when this happens. But, how being handed opportunities doesn’t always mean you will win in the end. One of the most important ways to practice this is off the playing field. It’s not when the game is on the line. It’s in the batting cage, the weight room and the pool. It’s the sprints in the humidity, the pushups on the dirt, the moments that aren’t as glorious, but just as important.
It’s like the workings of a clock. I don’t understand them, but I can look at the clock and know it’s ticking. I hear it. I see that the time is right, and I go about my day. But ask me to fix the clock and I would have no idea where to start or how to even get it open. Sometimes that is the simplicity of it all. The team is amazing. They play so well together, and you can see it, feel it and hear it. But the intricacies of taking it all apart for examination is something only a higher skilled craftsman would understand.
On The Will to Win… Sometimes we do it more for others than for ourselves. When we don’t want to let down our teammates… or our parents, or coaches or the ones we love the most. The point we are trying to get to is when not letting ourselves down is more important than the others combined. And that’s the biggest win of all.