Sound tough? You’re starting to get the picture of our definition of authentic success. Athletes who say they want to win will generally also proclaim they’ll do ‘whatever it takes’, but almost universally, they won’t. Winning is NOTHING compared to aspiring to be your best. It is a smaller, lesser and more limited perspective in all regards. All that winning requires is finishing ahead of another competitor as accorded by some arbitrary, game-specific system of scoring. Winning does not necessarily require you to be at your best. Indeed, sometimes you can still win when performing close to your worst. Being the best you can be is a conscious objective of far greater implication and infinitely deeper personal commitment, which, if you are genuinely talented enough, will include winning anyway.
This is NOT a cop out. It is what most people mistakenly believe wanting to win should be, but never will, or can. Athletes and coaches alike will assume that aspiring winners give their best. But…
What matters to you most is what you will focus on. Never assume anything else.
What we are really talking about is consciously targeting, approaching and fulfilling potential. What is potential? In practical terms it is the absolute performance level an individual or team would produce if it utilised all the internal (physiological, psychological, emotional, intuitive, experiential) and external (coaching, tactical, social, facilities, training, nutritional, financial, time etc) resources available to their fullest extent. So on any given day, an athlete does have an absolute potential of performance that quite clearly, no-one can accurately determine. As the athlete develops and evolves, so does his / her potential; incorporating each new resource that is acquired.
Absolute potential (except perhaps within very isolated physiological parameters) cannot be predicted. The best a well informed, responsible coach can do is formulate a performance “ballpark” that gives the athlete an idea of what might be possible for them if they began performing in the vicinity their potential. And while the lower limit of this performance ballpark can be agreed upon and set, the upper “limit” should always be left open. You just don’t know what invisible resources an individual might possess or have access to. To say to an athlete: “I don’t know what’s possible for you” is a powerful statement…and a motivating one.
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