Good to Great
Recently I visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center here in Colorado, one of only three in the nation, where elite athletes live and train full time. It’s like a college campus, but instead of classrooms there are different kinds of gyms for everything from martial arts to volleyball, gymnastics and weightlifting.
In order to qualify for residence at the Olympic Training Center, athletes must be ranked in the top 10% of their sport nationally. Once they’re in residence, their job is to train, usually six days a week, five to six hours a day. Even their eating and sleeping patterns are designed to maximize their fitness. They give up pretty much everything else in their lives—they move away from their families and friends, and most don’t have outside jobs—in pursuit of making the Olympic team and becoming the best in their sport.
Even with all that sacrifice and training, there’s no guarantee they’ll make the U.S. Olympic team, and if they do, they might not win any medals.
Their passion for their sport drives them, along with their deep desire to win, to be the best, to stretch themselves beyond their previous limits—to overcome personal hurdles, to look past the pain and see how far they can go.
What impresses me the most is this: These athletes are talented and gifted beyond the ordinary. They’re already elite before they get to the training center. They’ve won hundreds of competitions in their sport. They know they’re “good.” So what do they do? Do they sit back and expect coaches to come knocking and invite them to join the Olympic team?
No, they do the opposite. They give up everything and work harder than ever to take themselves from good to great. They spend at least 40 hours a week focused on improving their game. And they were already one of the best.
I hope you think about this whenever you’re feeling frustrated that your writing and publishing journey is so difficult. Just because it’s hard work, it doesn’t mean you’re not good. Sometimes it’s hardest for those who are the best.
Commitment, dedication, persevering, and working harder in the face of stiff competition – these are the traits of a winner.
Feel like you’re working really hard? Good. Don’t stop.
Have a big setback? Only you can choose whether it will be the end of your dream, or a motivator to press ahead with renewed strength.
Are you weary? Time to decide whether you’re passionate enough to keep pursuing your dream.
“Success is measured not in how many times you fall down, but by how many times you get back up.”
Q4U: What are some other ways the writing journey is similar to an Olympic athlete’s?
(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent