Years later I still remember that simple phrase, try to live by it, and now pass it on to the athletes I coach and others who follow my message, adapting its usage from business to sports.
The simple, yet powerful phrase?
"Success lies at the intersection of preparation and opportunity."
I encourage you to let these words sink in for a moment or two to see just how they resonate with you.
Now with full disclosure...the original phrase used the word "luck" instead of "success." My mentor explained it this way, "People always assume someone who achieves a great measure of success is somehow 'lucky,' when in fact that luck is really the by-product of a lot of hard work (preparation) coupled with the courage and wisdom to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves along the way."
He went on to say that "since opportunity is always present the only variable in determining how successful someone will become is how well prepared they are."
So what can you as parent, coach or player take away from this wisdom?
Here is how I teach it:
- I often hear parents and coaches complain that their athlete doesn't work hard enough or seem motivated; that she has so much potential, but doesn't seem to be achieving it. This could be symptom of burnout or more likely the lack of a clear "plan." As a parent or coach it is your responsibility to "connect the dots" for a younger athlete. I often refer to my players as being robots because they are programmed to do what we tell them to do, but are often unable to replicate these tasks on their own. Sometimes it is as simple as having a discussion about "why" she plays the game, what her dreams and goals are for her sport (maybe softball isn't her favorite sport?). Develop a clear physical and mental game plan to get her from where so is to where she/you want her to be in a few years. Again, it's all about preparation!
- From the player's perspective I also see far too much a young athlete give up on herself after a mistake, poor at bat or rough inning in the circle. Her thinking slides into the "red zone" and her performance only gets worse over time. She has lost sight that as difficult as the game of softball can be it will always offer every player another opportunity for success; another at bat, another ball hit to you, another inning in the circle, another game. As long as the athlete (and the adults) can frame "failure" as but a learning opportunity to make necessary adjustments for the next opportunity consistent success is inevitable!
- Ask your athlete or team this question: How good do you want to be? After they answer the question then ask her/them: How hard are to willing to work to be that good? As my mentor said, to the outside world a person/player's success looks easy. The truth is that every great athlete has put in countless hours of orchestrated physical and mental preparation in advance of their success. They success by design, not by accident!
Get your athlete excited about her softball future by connecting the dots for her. Help her to design a clear path/plan of preparation each week to get better at the game and you will begin to see a definable transformation to her game. Once she buys into the "big picture" success is sure to follow!
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