Learning to Love the Burn

Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.
— Robert Schuller

Every day we see top performers--elite athletes, superb musicians, outstanding authors. From our perspective, they seem exceptionally gifted. They make it look easy.

What we don’t see is what it takes to get the top. We don’t see behind the scenes. We don’t see the athletes getting up early to run, to hit the weights, or to practice their swings countless times. We don’t see the guitarists practicing chords until their fingers are calloused. We don’t see the famous authors sitting in front of the computer, working through writer’s block or struggling through a 3rd and 4th draft.

I recently heard a prolific author being interviewed. The interviewer asked him what it takes to be successful. He said something to this effect, "I am no more talented than the next person, but I do have something that many others don't have: I have a willingness to grind it out."

The willingness to grind it out is why I love the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. It’s the true story of a poor man determined to make a good life for himself and his son. On his way to success, there are hardships, rejections, and obstacles. We get a behind the scenes look at the price it takes to achieve mastery.

“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare.” – Bear Bryant

When Steve Jobs was alive, I loved watching his presentations unveiling new Apple products. He seemed so natural and comfortable on stage. If you do some research, you will find that he practiced over and over again in preparation for the events. And the preparation showed--he came across almost flawlessly. 

Anytime you see someone perform at a high level, you can be sure they were grinding it out behind the scenes, day after day.

So enjoy the preparation process. Do what it takes to win. Learn to love the burn.