consistency is a choice

For this blog entry … I digress back to my younger years … I do not live in the past, however, I am using my past and a couple stories of failures ONLY for reflection and discussion …

When I was younger, around the time I was 10 years old… I was the number one swimmer in America for my age group.
When I was 13, I was not — I had the talent to be number one, but…

I was lazy, unfocused and with the risk of sounding crude, I was a complete “pussy.”

My super supportive Mom and Dad wanted me to be as great as I “should” be — so they sent me to a boarding school for swimming in Ft. Lauderdale – called Pinecrest.

Therefore, when I was 14 years old, I moved from Nebraska to Ft. Lauderdale … It was the first time in my life where I was on my own and I had to rely on myself for everything.

I failed miserably. I was a complete loser. I got into many fist fights .. I chased girls and worried about being “cool” … I skipped swim practice – I got kicked off the swim team for having a bad attitude. I even failed typing (as my father still asks, how do you fail typing??)

Ultimately, I got “uninvited back” to Pine Crest — I was not kicked out, but a politically correct way of being kicked out…maybe even worse because no one wants to be “uninvited” back to a party …

I remember the morning when I found out I was “uninvited back” to Pine Crest (I clearly remember) My parents were so disgusted and disappointed that they told me to go to my room …

…. I remember laying in my bed that day … thinking about how much of a loser I was … saying to myself outloud over and over, “I do not want to be a loser.” “I do not want to be a loser” …

The best high school swim team in America was in Jacksonville — and after laying in bed for the morning …. suddenly, I came up with an idea of redeeming myself by going to the school ….

I got the phone number and I called the head swim coach myself … I finally got a hold of the the coach, Coach Troy and pitched him, telling him: “I just got kicked out of Pinecrest … up until today, I have been a loser — but I do not want to be a loser anymore … please give me a chance to prove myself and swim for you.”

A few days later I flew down to Jacksonville – entered summer school and started swimming with the team.

I had the summer to prove myself….and I did. I got an A+ in my english summer school course and I did everything the coaches wanted – and in my mind I worked very hard.

For once in my life I was very consistent

I was given a 2nd chance …and I got myself accepted to The Bolles School and started the school year with a brand new beginning …

During the 3 years I was at Bolles I did a good job.

I was the team captain of the number 2 high school swim team in America … I was rated a top 5 high school swimmer in America– I was not really “great,” but I was good.

I was good student … got good grades, but not “great” grades … good enough to pretend to myself that I was doing a good job.

With my swimming …. Coach Troy was so hard on me … no matter how good “I thought” I was doing …. he was hard on me. He never seemed to be happy with my performance —

I remember once finishing 2nd in a hard race during practice …. the guy that won the race was a silver medalist in the olympics … and I got 2nd to him …. I was very happy….

But Coach Troy was very dissapointed and as I left the pool with a smile on my face for a great practice Coach Troy shouted at me, “it’s ridiculous that you got 2nd when you could have won if you would have made 10% more effort” …..

I did not understand, I just got 2nd to an Olympic silver medalist, why is this guy so hard on me???

My senior year I got into a big fist fight with the number one swimmer in america (I did not start the fight, but I won), and my coach kicked me off the team for a couple of weeks … he was furious and from that time onwards, he slowly lost his keen interest in me…

Reflecting back, after that fight, Coach Troy was no longer tough on me at all…I can see clearly now, that this fight was the last problem for Coach …he finally gave up. I had the god given talent to be a great swimmer, even potentially to go to the olympics … to be a real “winner ” …I had the talent to be a straight A student … to go to Harvard … Stanford … etc ….
However, I retired an unaccomplished swimmer … a B+ student ….. and I did not get accepted into Harvard nor Stanford, but I did get accepted to a very good school, Cal Berkeley….”very good, but not great.”

Looking back … the story of my life was … “good, but not great…”

Until my Junior year at Berkeley, I never focused consistently on studying … I would go through spurts … I would study, get a good grade and then coast … I was one of those idiots in school that boasted about “not having to study to get B+’s…”

Upon reflection, in swimming, I definately was good at “talking about” training hard … and sometimes I did, but never really consistently … while others were “consistently” putting in extra time in the weight room and or extra running….I did not…in my mind, I did not need to.. I was already “pretty good.”

Years later …. I reflect back on it all ….. I realize clearly…. my Coach, one of the most famous swim coaches in American swimming, saw that I could be great … he saw that I had the talent to be great, and he was frustrated over and over again … because I was not seizing this talent. I was great at talking about “working hard” …. I was great at “wanting” to be great ….. but I did not live up to even 50% of my talent …
Essentially, Coach Troy wanted me to be “great” more than I wanted it.

Over the years… I have come across several super talents, especially salesmen — as well as people who could be great leaders … but instead, they sit around talking about what they are going to do “tomorrow” and go through life wasting their talents.

Some of the them even do a good job — but they could be so much better …they could be great.

However, being “great” takes consistency; focus; and drive …and even more consistency; focus; and drive …

Yesterday, over 4,000 people in 16 countries read my blog …

I wonder…

How many of the 4,000+ are “good”… even “very good” — but how many of them (you) included, could be “great” …. if you focused on being more consistent, working harder, working smarter … on putting in the extra time … the extra focus…consistency.

It is so much easier being mediocre, or even just being “good” than it is being “great.”

It is so much easier to talk about what we are going to do than to actually do it.

Reflect … surely we all know super talented people, maybe even you … someone that is good “should have been and could have been a super star”… but end up being someone that just simply “should and could have been great, but is not….

“William Blake… Jack Murphy… Denzel … Rami … you are good, in fact, all of you are “very good”… but not “consistently” super stars … why not?????

For the 4,329 people who read the blog yesterday … me, my friends and family included …

why settle on just being good???? … why not be great???? Why not work on being consistent???

Why not work, just that little bit harder??? Why not do the “little” things even better????

For the people that have gone through life up until today, as someone that “could and should, but is not”…

make it happen


3 thoughts on “consistency is a choice

  1. although i am much more consistent than I used to be … remaining consistent is always a challenge. I am someone who likes “ritual” meaning, I wake at the same time, run at the same time, go to the same cafe, sit in the same place, go to work at the same time, have the same ritual etc .. which definately has helped me become much more consistent.

    the point of the blog entry “consistency is a choice” was not for me to pontificate on my consistency, but to challenge the reader, as well as myself to reflect …

  2. The touchstone
    Do you know the story of the touchstone? It tells of a fortunate man who was told that, if he should possess the “touchstone,” its magical powers could give him anything he wanted. The touchstone could be found, he was informed, among the pebbles of a certain beach. All he need do is pick up a stone — if it feels warm to the touch, unlike the other pebbles, he has found the magical touchstone.

    The man went immediately to the beach and began picking up stones. When he grasped a pebble that felt cold, he threw it into the sea. This practice he continued hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Each pebble felt cold. Each pebble was immediately tossed into the sea.

    But then, late one morning, he happened to take hold of a pebble that felt warm, unlike the other stones. The man, whose consciousness had barely registered the difference, tossed it into the sea. He hadn’t meant to, but he had formed a habit!

    Any behavior that we repeat, we reinforce. If we repeat it often enough, it becomes habit. That, of course, can work to our advantage or work against us, depending on the behavior.

    Is there a behavior you would like to make into a habit? Then reinforce it by repeating that behavior at every opportunity. Is there a behavior you wish to change? Then substitute another one and repeat the new one often. In this way you build the kind of life you want…day by day.