I have a friend who is a former world-class athlete. According to him, in his prime he was pound-for-pound the strongest man who had ever lived – and he has the world records to prove it.
Now he trains NFL players, top-level college athletes, Olympic hopefuls, and high performers in a variety of sports.
The one thing that my friend stresses as the key to success – the one thing that really separates the elite from the rest – is not talent, knowledge, or even hard work.
It’s mastering the mundane.
The Boring Fundamentals
The best of the best do more than show up to a game with a good mental attitude, and they do way more than working out hard in the gym.
They get their sleep. They eat right. They see massage therapists and practice preventative sports medicine. They stretch.
They practice the boring fundamentals of their sport until it’s second nature, and then they practice some more. And then some more.
They understand that games are won or lost not with the flashy plays but with the basics honed to perfection.
Distracted by the Shiny
I find that the same is true as we seek to be productive with our lives.
We may get enamored with the idea of taking a week for fasting, praying, and setting huge goals for our lives. It’s certainly inspiring to envision a new level of effectiveness after we integrate the perfect combination of apps or the new comprehensive system that takes our to-do lists to the next level. It’s tempting to consider the possibility of outsourcing much of our workload – or even hiring a digital assistant.
And those may indeed be extremely helpful things. But that’s not where the victory will come.
Back to Basics
Success comes through the mundane.
From the boring parts of effectiveness executed at a high level.
- Are you focusing at work?
- Are you having an adequate devotional time?
- Are you asking the Lord daily to give you the heart you need to think about your time and obligations well?
- Do you waste time on the internet?
- Do you work on what’s most important?
- Are you responding to emails efficiently and appropriately?
- Are you tracking your time and ensuring that you’re balancing the areas of your life?
- Are you tracking your goals and holding yourself accountable?
- Do you need to fall more in love with what you do?
- Are you procrastinating?
- Are you inefficient because of a cluttered workspace or unorganized computer?
- Are you managing your energy well?
- Do you wake up and go to sleep at good times for you?
- Are you pausing to pray briefly throughout the day?
- Do you have a good morning routine? A good evening routine?
I’m sure you can think of plenty of other examples. In fact, I bet with a few seconds of introspection you can think of at least one particular area where you could benefit from some improvement.
Reap the Benefits
Be encouraged and enjoy the process of growing. It’s not flashy, and you may not get a rush thinking about the small and boring things.
But rest assured that your productivity will increase and you will better steward the time you have on this earth.
Become a master of the mundane.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo (Creative Commons)
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