• Bad to Great: The Truth About Success

    In the fall of 1982, I stepped on a wrestling mat for the first time. I was skinny, awkward, mild-mannered and not one you’d have picked to succeed in the sport. Ten years later, I won a major championship that placed me on a USA team that competed overseas. I got a college scholarship, placed at the NCAA Championships, won numerous titles, got invited to the Olympic Training Center and became the youngest Division I head coach in the country.

    I started, of course, as a novice.

    I saw this Tweet the other day.

    The Olympians, the experts… even the Jim Harshaw’s of the world… they didn’t start as Olympians or experts. They started as novices. As amateurs. They didn’t know how to stand, how to hold the ball, how to write a business plan, give a presentation or make a million dollars.

    how to get good at somethingThey struggled, got embarrassed, and failed.

    But they make it look easy now. I know. I get it.

    But their road was harder than you’ll ever know.

    They faced self-doubt and questioned if they were doing the right thing. They questioned whether they should quit.

    They had goals that scared them. They were nervous and anxious. They were pushed by coaches or pulled by parents or nudged by teammates.

    They had mentors and teachers. Some good, some bad. Some had great parents. Others had no parents. Some had a lot of money. Others had none.

    It’s not that they don’t have fear. It’s that they decide that they want something and choose the path of facing their fear. But it’s hard. In fact, it was harder for many of them than it would be for you. (You do, by the way, have an unfair advantage.)

    And so, it seems that you have something in common with them– with the people who are where you want to be. You are, it appears, right on track.

    I know it doesn’t feel like it. It’s not glamorous, this journey you’re on. Neither was Kobe Bryant’s, Richard Branson’s or Steve Jobs’. Sure, they had their moments. But those moments were possible because of long hours spent alone plying their trade in obscurity despite fear or fatigue or the pull of other guilty pleasures.

    So, when you feel hopeless, when you experience self-doubt, when you stare face-to-face with your fear, take solace in knowing that you’re in good company. That you’re on the path.

    You’re on the path to being a great teacher, a championship coach, a successful business owner, an amazing parent or the best spouse you can be.

    Enjoy the journey…