Sport teaches us much about life. Tenacity, competition and courage play major roles in victors and losers. I enjoy the stories and documentaries of sports legends. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were legendary rivals. Their work ethic and surreal ability to raise the game, players and league around them to new heights stemmed from what was unseen. Outwardly, they were as opposite as night and day. One was charismatic, the other was reserved. Both had a fierce competitiveness and refusal to lose.
When interviewed separately, these two rivals were keeping tabs on each other. They worked relentlessly on their game and pushed themselves because they always felt the other person was working harder. It was fuel.
In the old economy, you could be boring and draft off the winner. Today, you have to be the winner in your own category. The thing is that there is likely someone out there working harder than you. Your unseen rival is willing to go the extra mile, delight your customer and execute a business framework with precision. Someone out there is willing to pay the brain bill and figure out what is hard. Someone out there is willing to work the weekend to deliver more value.
Your unseen rival most likely has access to all the same information and resources you do today. There are many people that can get to 95% of what is required. That’s easy and apparent. Getting that last 5% is what allows the lion’s share of the winnings to go to the rival who is willing to outwork everyone else.
We live in a complex world. It is increasing in complexity. It is opportunity for those that push and pull on all aspects of what is new and possible. Work that last 5% with tenacity and know that someone out there is willing to do it if you are not. If that is not motivation enough, then perhaps you are in the wrong game altogether.
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No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.
Charles Francis Adams