Making Time for Excellence.
To be the best, you have to take the time to pursue excellence.
It's not enough to have natural talent. Or even to work like an animal -- putting in massive amounts of mind-bending effort.
You need the discipline to focus on being the best. Especially when it's not fun.
That's means you deliberately focus on both the mental and physical aspects of being great
In 1960, Cassius Clay won the light heavyweight gold medal in the Rome Summer Olympic after more than one hundred amateur fights and fewer than a handful of losses, ever. He was a phenomenal exhibitionist -- a raging athlete in the ring.
However, after coming home from the Olympics he was so frustrated by being kicked out of a "white only" diner that he threw his gold medal in the Ohio River. He had beaten the best in the world and was unable to manage being unfairly treated by those around him.
This ability to overcome, despite unfair odds was a skill he would later learn to become a champion.
Excellence isn't simply talent or a set of acquired skills. It's you making time to be better.
It's deliberate practice and painstaking attention to detail. It's you deciding to go the extra mile when the last mile was hard enough. Its controlling your mind in spite of the obstacles ahead.
It's training hardest when your schedule looks busiest.
Five years later, Cassius, now known as Mohammed Ali, took on Sonny Liston in a fight he entered as a 7-1 underdog. Through the first three rounds, Ali was clearly winning on points. Fast and powerful, he had already bruised Liston and had cut him below both eyes.
That all changed.
In the fourth round, Ali became blinded by a substance Liston's corner had apparently smeared on his gloves. Unable to see, he danced outside the reach of Liston until his sweat and tears could wash away enough of the poison so he could fight.
After the round, Ali cleaned up and entered the ring with the focus to dominate his opponent. Liston took a bad beating. Unable to answer the bell for the start of round seven, he conceded the battle to Ali.
Almost cheated out of success, Mohammed Ali overcame the odds. Blinded by unfair tactics and sneaky cheating by an opponent who might have been already better than him entering the ring, Ali took his last 1,825 days of training the distance.
He had made time for excellence. He took his skills, his athleticism, his greatness and traded it for immortality.
It comes down to this really simple thought :
If you don't make time to pursue excellence, then you never get to truly experience greatness. All you ever know is mediocrity.
You're already making time to be average and ordinary.
Why not aim for excellence?