The reason many people fail at their goals is that they have a ten-year dream but a two-week work ethic.
Yesterday I was talking about the topic of "discipline", which for me somehow inevitably leads to today's topic: Work ethic.
What's that all about? Google provides an answer: work ethic is "the attitude, attitude towards one's work".
What is your attitude towards your work? Is the best end result just good enough for you or do you drop everything the moment your contractually regulated working time is over? Not that one is better than the other. But when we talk about success and achieving one's own personal goals, such a work ethic will not get anyone very far...
Now I come from a rather radical background. Sport, especially elite sport and there, I maintain, especially triathlon is a profession in which the times are long gone when a little training and passion could suddenly get you to the top. The performance density has changed too much, we can rely too much on the help of technology and numbers. So what does it take to be successful in a sport like this?
Of course, there is the still romantic idea that if you suffer from a pronounced Steppenwolf syndrome, you have the best prerequisites as a triathlete. The glorified idea of the gladiatorial "alone against the world" still resonates at Ironman events and many see themselves lonely, exposed to the forces of nature and staggering towards the finish line in defiance. Behind which one is then received with fondness and very surprisingly by the childhood sweetheart lost from sight, who has suddenly recognised all one's mistakes and discovered one's self on television, leading to a heroic, epic reunion on the red carpet?
These beautiful fantasies have one thing in particular in common: never gonna happen. And that's for a couple of completely mundane, almost sickeningly banal reasons. First, there is the fact that at the finish line of an Ironman, you hardly give a thought to anything but the next seat. Then there is the fact that hardly any long-distance triathlon is ever really televised, because to watch it, let's face it, is simply and utterly boring. And thirdly, the time you spend daydreaming about it is NOT spent on improving yourself physically...
If I have learned anything about my sport and what it takes to be successful in it over the last 20 years, it is a few, but very crucial points:
Avoid mistakes. Training too intensively here, not listening to your body there... from minor injuries to serious health problems, lax treatment of your own body can lead to just about any ailment you can imagine. If you learn to avoid these things, you might stand a chance.
Consequence. No one becomes a world champion in this sport if, after three more or less good weeks of training, he (or she) tells himself (or herself) that he or she now deserves some time off. If you want to get to the top, you have to focus on that every day, from the moment you get up in the morning.
Never settle for okay. You're allowed - supposed to be allowed - to be happy about good units, but the moment you start figuratively settling for B-grade, that ship has sailed. No, it is not good enough to fulfil a unit 80%. Yes, those 5 minutes make a difference. Yes, you too can still learn something.
Pay attention to the periphery. You may think that your body awareness is a sufficient indicator of your performance, but performance level triathlon is much more than swimming, cycling and running. Starting with your agility, your coordination, your sleep, your nutrition, there are countless things that you quickly lose sight of because they have little to do with the sport on the surface. You ignore them at your own peril.
Show up. Daily. This point is perhaps the most important. No athlete is ever fully motivated every day and looks forward to training. This is absolute, high-level bullshit. In elite sport you are often on your own, but you are constantly accompanied by the four apocalyptic horsemen called sore muscles, aching limbs, stiff joints and exhaustion. The important thing is not to give in to them.
Last but not least: take care of your body and look after it! I realise that the last paragraph could very well be interpreted as the opposite, but let me tell you: most top athletes are not so healthy because they do sport, but WHY they do sport. If you don't take really good care of your body and do everything you can to keep it healthy, resilient and well looked after on all levels, you will perish from sport.
Of course, this list can be extended at will, but reduced to the maximum, I would say: this is a good start. So what does it take to be successful?
In a nutshell, in my opinion: It takes a work ethic that matches your dream. Otherwise it will remain a dream.
I leave you with this,