One of my favorite authors is Jim Collins, and among his best books is Good to Great, a piece written with the idea of being more than just good, and separating mediocre performance from those who climb to the top of their market or field. It's a very well written book, and worth a read if you have some free time and an interest.
Collins tends to break down business ideas into metaphors, one of which is his "flywheel." The flywheel is meant to represent how a company breaks through into a success. Imagine an enormous steel wheel, set on a pair of parallel bars on which it rolls along, sort of like a railway. Now imagine there is one guy, pushing this huge flywheel, which weighs thousands of pounds. His first few pushes don't even budge the wheel; the next few make it quiver. One of his buddies comes over and begins pushing too, and the wheel begins to teeter a bit. After some more effort, it begins to roll slowly down the rail. As time goes on, the group of folks pushing the flywheel grows, all pushing tirelessly, until it rolls at a good pace. As it gets faster, more people notice and begin to help until the wheel is humming down the rail. Someone, miles down the rail, sees it coming his way and exclaims how impressive it is, and comments that the people pushing it have had a massive breakthrough.
Here's the point - it wasn't a massive breakthrough. The speed of the huge wheel was the outcome of push after push after push, tireless consistent effort. Lots of the time, people on the outside see a split second of success, that in reality was the product of tons of hard work. This is the way it is in football as well - take Odell Beckham for instance. Prior to his well publicized and hugely impressive one handed catch on Monday Night Football, prior to his top draft status at the NFL draft that year, he was hardly a household name. Sure, those who follow college football with some regularity knew who he was, but he was nowhere close to the billboard icon he is now, as he lights up New York City and graces the cover of countless magazines and commercials. No, prior to that April, he was only known within knowledgeable football circles. What really happened was no breakthrough, no meteoric rise; what really happened is that from a young age, Odell Beckham was active, worked hard, played lots of sports, worked on his craft, and put in hours upon hours towards being a great football player. What the public exclaimed was "what a breakthrough!" What really happened was years of effort that only got noticed once it reached that stage.
The hardest part of that journey to greatness is continuing to push the flywheel when no one is watching, no one is exclaiming how amazing it is, how fast it's moving. But, it's those that keep pushing that eventually achieve greatness. Make sure everyday, you push the flywheel. Make sure you tell your teammates to do it. Make sure you find consistency in purpose, an inner drive to keep pushing even if no one else is looking. If you keep pushing long enough, they'll all be looking.
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