The Price Of Greatness Is Expensive. Are You Willing To Pay It?

All too often, failure blinds leaders and coaches to the greatness that lies just behind the bend in the road.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh. Somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Why are some individuals able to cultivate mastery in their craft while others settle for mediocrity?

In short, some people expect to pay the price of greatness, while others, who may claim ambition and the desire to succeed, are unwilling to. The most talented leader and coach is usually not the winner.

So what then is that price of greatness? 

Simply, it is determination, sacrifice, persistence, and discipline. 

It’s the daily choice to take the road less traveled, one full of bumps, turns, and roadblocks. The road toward greatness does not have business hours. It only has production hours. Greatness is first a mindset and a changing of lifestyle that requires immense sacrifice. 

Those who aspire and sustain greatness do the following religiously:

  • Keep a routine while staying focused.

  • Prioritize mental and physical fitness. 

  • Are voracious in pursuit to learn, grow, and get better. 

  • Always persist and find a way when life throws obstacles.

  • Take accountability by not complaining and making excuses. 

  • Practice self-mastery by resisting social temptations and distractions.

Persistence is the will that drives a person to endure that sometimes bumpy ride. Recognize there will be failures on the road to greatness. Believe in yourself, and don’t lose sight of your vision, goals, and why you started.

Inspirational speaker and former Tennessee Volunteers football player Inky Johnson captures the essence of persistence brilliantly. He says, “Commitment is staying true to what you said you would do long after the mood that you said it in has left.” 

All too often, failure blinds leaders and coaches to the greatness that lies just behind the bend in the road. It is only those with the determination and the will to win from within who realize you cannot have greatness without some resistance. Those who continually persist and discipline their minds and bodies to overcome obstacles ultimately achieve excellence.

Without question, it can be challenging to make sacrifices and persist. But that is why so many people are content to wallow in mediocrity. Many live in fear, never truly exploring and tapping into the different depths of who they authentically are. We can become complacent and end up accepting the smooth and comfortable path with less resistance. When we make that decision, we take the uneasy and inadequate contentment that comes with mediocrity.

Realize it is only those who are willing to endure the pain of the struggle who ultimately enjoy the rewards of greatness and see the fruits of their labor. Understand adversity is an experience, not a final act. The path of greatness and mastery in any field does not transpire overnight. It is a long transformative journey and meticulous process, not merely a destination.

So ask yourself today, are you willing to pay the price of greatness?

P.S. If you are in search of a book recommendation, our team at The Daily Coach highly recommends Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

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Australian Open: Pro or Amateur?

We must understand our limitations. We must avoid unforced errors at all costs.

The Australian Open began this week in Melbourne, the first grand slam of the tennis year. The tournament was first held in 1905 and has grown to become one of the more significant annual sporting events in the Southern Hemisphere. But according to engineer and statistician Simon Ramo, it could really be divided into two separate sports: The professionals and everyone else.

Here is the difference for Ramo. The professional wins points, whereas the amateur loses points. When players of equal skill compete, the points flow perfectly until one player hits a perfect shot slightly out of reach. When amateurs play, tennis balls often are struck into the net and double faults are as common as faults. The novice makes mistakes that the professional never makes, often more than once.

The winners at center court in Rod Laver Stadium for both the men and woman’s events will be there because of their incredible skill levels as well as their ability to avoid mistakes. Unforced errors are everything.

What happens to many of us is that we never understand that most competitive sports or businesses are not about who excels the most but instead about who screws up the least. Teams and companies that avoid losing often win more than organizations that claim they are holding nothing back, playing to win. Charlie Munger, the vice-chair of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, once said: “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

We must understand our limitations. We must avoid unforced errors at all costs.

When Berkshire Hathaway did not initially get involved in the dotcom business, many said they missed the boat. But after it crashed, those same critics then said Berkshire Hathaway looked smart. They were willing to forfeit short-term growth for not making costly, long-term mistakes.

We all want to grow while finding new revenue streams, new plays, and new ideas. Yet, often we move from being professionals to being amateurs by making avoidable, unforced errors. Remember, professionals win points, amateurs lose them.

When you watch the Australian Open this week, do two things. First, send support to all those fighting the fires and pray for all affected. And secondly, acknowledge whether you’re a pro or an amateur.

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When Cutting Edge Becomes Cheating

When sleek technology is utilized for manipulation purposes, then it is outright wrong. 

The Houston Astros’ recent cheating scandal has rocked Major League Baseball — costing many their jobs and raising urgent concerns about the integrity of not just the franchise but the sport as a whole. 

The Astros under former General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Jeff Luhnow were known as a cutting-edge team that explored several avenues to win at the highest level. But few ever suspected the franchise of outright cheating.

Stealing signs in baseball is as old as the game itself, and every organization wants to gain an edge by knowing whether a fastball is coming or when the pitcher might throw it to first base. But Luhnow and associates stepped outside the ethical boundaries by devising a scheme to use technology to cross lines — leaving fans, players and front offices appalled and deceived. When sleek technology is utilized for manipulation purposes, then it is outright wrong. 

Jon Huntsman’s 2005 book, Winners Never Cheat: Everyday Values We Learned as Children (But May Have Forgotten), details the core principles and ethical boundaries of his business. Huntsman wanted the reader to understand his code of conduct for every employee, including himself. When an opportunity arose that might have a team member weighing that thin margin between doing what’s right or what might seem easier, that ethical code was unambiguous.

Here are Huntsman’s 3 principles:

  1. Compete fiercely and fairly — but no cutting in line. Everyone must love the competition and embrace the challenge. But there are no different set of rules for anyone. Huntsman had Golden Rules: Proper table manners, respecting others, good sportsmanship, the unwritten codes such as no cutting in line and sharing. All these mindsets allowed him to develop the character of the company. Leaders must always define the character traits of every team member.  

  2. Set the example — risk, responsibility, reliability. Everyone watches the top. But how the bottom behaves is only reflected in how the top carries itself and conducts business. If you see a piece of paper on the floor, don’t wait for the janitorial staff. Set the example yourself. No one is above anyone when doing the right thing.  

  3. Revenge is unproductive. Learn to move on. Do not stay stuck looking back. Keep your vision locked in on the present and future. We only hurt ourselves and the growth of the organization when carrying bitterness. Learning from the past is critical, but harboring the past is detrimental.

We can all learn from the Houston Astros. We can reinforce our principles to those we lead each day. Strive to become a team of character. Not a team of characters.

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The Heroics of Doris Miller

Miller was an African-American sailor who saved countless lives during the Pearl Harbor attacks.

Have you ever heard of an African-American sailor named Doris Miller? Well, his story is vital to U.S. history and a masterclass in courage, selflessness, and integrity.

Doris Miller was a third-class enlisted man who worked as a cook at the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor before WWII. On December 7, 1941, he was onboard the USS West Virginia serving breakfast and collecting laundry when the battleship was rocked by a series of torpedoes. As chaos reigned around him, Miller sprung into action. First, he escorted commanding officer Mervyn Bennion — who had suffered a serious shrapnel wound to his abdomen — to a safe location. (Bennion would later succumb to his injuries).

Then, Miller was ordered to help another ensign load the unmanned Number 1 and 2 anti-aircraft machine guns. Although he had no training in any of this, he followed the orders of others and fired his weapon until he ran out of ammunition. When the fusillade finally ceased, Miller helped move other injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, unquestionably saving lives.

His selfless sacrifice that December morning earned him the Navy Cross — at the time the third-highest Navy award for gallantry during combat. But the truth is Doris Miller’s bravery was on display in the segregated Navy well before Pearl Harbor. He endured racist taunts from those around him in the months leading up to the attack but always turned the other cheek. On December 7, 1941, all he cared about was doing his job to save his fellow countryman — even if it might’ve been one of his verbal abusers.

After his heroics at Pearl Harbor, Miller continued to serve his country in WWII, but on November 20, 1943, his ship was struck in the Battle of Makin. The Navy declared him “presumed dead.”

On Monday, nearly 80 years after Doris Miller’s gallantry, Navy officials announced a new aircraft carrier will be named after him, the first time in U.S. history an African-American will receive such an honor.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in a statement.

Fittingly, the Navy said the ship will be a top asset for crisis response and humanitarian relief.

Today, let us all pause to reflect on the life of Doris Miller and remind ourselves that there is no legacy like that of selfless sacrifice. As you go about your day, make sure you judge based on the content of one’s character alone. Nothing else.

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Truth Talk With Coach George Raveling on Dr. King’s Legacy

On this MLK Day, let us reflect on the power of service.

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the heels of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday last week, The Daily Coach team sat down for an intimate conversation with the publication’s co-founder and the guardian of Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, Coach George Raveling, to discuss Dr. King’s legacy and the state of our current society. 

Shortly after taking over as head men’s basketball coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes in 1983, Coach George Raveling interviewed with Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter Bob Denney. He revealed a little-known, but astonishing fact about himself. The coach tapped to replace Lute Olson in Iowa City was also the guardian of one of the more famous documents in American history — a physical copy of the “I Have a Dream” speech, which he had tucked away inside a signed copy of President Harry S. Truman’s autobiography for nearly twenty years.

Coach Raveling had attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, serving as last-minute security at the speaker’s podium. In the uproar that ensued after Dr. King’s speech, Raveling brazenly asked him for the copy.

“He handed it to me,” Coach Raveling told Denney.

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech. But I’m sure glad that I did.”

For Coach Raveling, then 26, the document was far more than a sheet of paper that would likely be worth a lot of money one day. It represented a newfound responsibility to serve and to lead.

Now 82, Coach Raveling says he has done his best to embody the selfless virtues instilled in him that summer day — whether it’s with his family, friends, players, colleagues, or merely those reaching out for advice.

For this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Daily Coach team sat down with Coach Raveling to get his views on the 1963 movement, Dr. King’s legacy, and whether we’re presently doing enough to combat injustices that still persists.

Q: What leadership qualities have you learned from Dr. King and incorporated into your living?

Coach Raveling: In my opinion, the best form of leadership is servant leadership. Your fundamental responsibility is to serve those who you lead. You must figure out the needs of the group as well as the needs of each individual you lead. As you go along, the one thing that becomes crystal clear for a servant leader is that it is never about ME and always about WE. I think it becomes incumbent upon you as a leader to ask yourself and figure out how I can best serve the needs of those individuals who are followers. The minute you embrace servant leadership, it defines your leadership style.

Q: With our society still dealing with many of the same issues Dr. King passionately advocated against, has his vision and humanity’s call to action become stagnated?

Coach Raveling: I do not think so. What it says to me is how complex the dream is. Mainly when you step out of the dream and start to pursue the dream, that is when you begin to face life realities. We find out that a lot of dreams are more complex than we realize when we first conceived the idea. I can understand why people would feel frustrated that we are still grappling with the same issues and that the dream has not come to its conclusion. But not all dreams are ultimately fulfilled. There are no finish lines in some dreams. To me, what we have learned is this is going to be an ongoing struggle to make the dream a reality. The fact that Dr. King said he had a dream and people bought into the dream, they also learned a valuable lesson. When you buy into a dream — you buy into it wholeheartedly. And there is a price that you pay for buy-in. I am not too sure when it is all said and done that we are not better off in that we have not fully achieved the dream. I think what it does as the dream moves from generation to generation, is it continues to keep people focused and committed on the vision. 

Q: What are your feelings on athletes using their platforms to speak out against injustices, social, and political issues?

Coach Raveling: We have to be careful when we signal just athletes. I think athletes are only part of our overall social structure. Why are athletes anymore incumbent to speak out on issues than ministers, teachers, judges, executives, and the everyday civilian? What I think athletes do is remind us that we all have a civic responsibility to speak out against injustice and inequality. Some people have a better platform than others to get their message heard. But at the same time, human beings are probably in the best position they have ever been in during history to share. So today, I think what we have to come to grips with is that we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution. How one manifest that should be left up to each individual. I think we get ourselves in trouble when we begin to believe that one size fits all. There are a variety of ways a person can contribute, but contribute they must.

Q: What does the “I Have a Dream” speech mean to you?

Coach Raveling: When I look back on it now, it has been a constant reminder to me of the true value a dream has and the responsibilities that come with having a dream. The relevance that a dream can play in a person’s life. I have learned to help be a Dream Maker. To assist people in turning their dreams into realities. There is no question that it has caused me to reevaluate how I live my life and what I believe my contributions to society should be.

On this MLK Day, let us reflect on the power of service. Each day of life, we have the unique opportunity to use our time in the service of others. Realize wisely and earnestly, we never need a title to be a positive difference-maker and an advocate of our dreams!

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