Leadership, Punishment, Time and Greatness

April 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

I was reading an article about LeBron James that I can highly recommend to all:


It’s predominately about how James has continually and ruthlessly improved his performance over the last 4 or so years.

Already a prolific talent that just isn’t enough for James, he has the drive and discipline to be the best of all times. You could say, referencing my previous blog post, that he’s highly intrinsically motivated, I have a sneaking suspicion that even if he was a ditch digger, he’d be working out better and smarter ways to dig those ditches and be the best at it.

Anyway, there’s a quote in it that I love:

“It’s work,” James says. “It’s a lot of work. It’s being in workouts, and not accomplishing your goal, and paying for it. So, if I get to a spot in a workout and want to make eight out of 10, if I don’t make eight of 10, then I run. I push myself to the point of exhaustion until I make that goal”

What an impressive mindset for someone already at the absolute top of his game, surely the greatest current player in the NBA and likely to be one of the greatest of all time doesn’t NEED to train this hard, but he wants to – he wants to be the best.

There’s a lot you can learn from this and certainly a lot I’ve learnt over the years from different endeavours in both competitive sport and business – if you want to be the best there’s sacrifice, struggle, time and punishment involved. There is no-one that is the best at something the day they start at it, even if you’re genetically gifted – the very best are defined not by their natural talent but by their drive, will and desire to be better every single day.

Having just taken up playing AFL football at the age of 31 and never touched a AFL football before my team mates think it’s weird that on the weekends that after I’ve played an exhausting game I’m out kicking the football trying to get better, trying to pick up skills, wanting to play more, be involved more – but realistically, it’s just not enough for me to be OK at something, It’s one of the reasons why I can only have one sporting obsession at a time, it’s too overwhelming otherwise!

I work every day, almost obsessively on being a better leader, colleague, sportsman and human being because I know I have room to improve in all of those areas. I think companies should work every day on being better corporate citizens, partners with their clients and community leaders.

So how much do you (or your companies) punish yourself to be better at what you do? What do you give up to be great? Do you really want to be great? If so, do you have a cohesive vision of what would makes you great?

Interesting questions with interesting answers I venture..

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