Outstanding performance is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to do three things. 1) Become a lifelong learner. 2) Set high goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them. 3) Get organized manage your time, life and stress well.
I take my own advice – especially when it comes to lifelong learning. I actively seek out people who know stuff that I don’t. (In my case, I don’t have to look too hard as I constantly amaze myself with what I don’t know.)
Last week I attended a boot camp for professional speakers conducted by James Malinchak. James is a great speaker and a master marketer – and he seems to know everybody who is anybody. I learned a lot at the camp.
James is a master storyteller. He told a story about doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals. When he was in high school, James decided that he wanted to get a basketball scholarship to a Division 1 school. Lots of people have this goal; not many of them are willing to put in the work necessary to achieve it.
James did two things. First, he decided to become an outstanding three point shooter. He took some money that he made from a high school job, bought a tape measure, some paint and a paint brush. He painted a regulation three point line on the playground court near his house in Monesson PA. He then spent hours perfecting his jump shot. This worked. His senior year he led his team to the PA state championship, making 75% of the three point shots he attempted during the season. If you know anything about basketball, you know that this is almost unheard of. I might not have believed it if I hadn’t seen a clipping in a college basketball publication attesting to it.
Second, and even more impressive for a high school kid, James chose 50 colleges where he would like to play basketball. He found the names and addresses of the coaches at those schools. His games were on Tuesday and Friday (just like when I was in high school in PA). Every Wednesday and Saturday, James sent the press clippings from the previous night’s games to the coaches of the 50 schools he had targeted. This was time consuming snail mail – there was no internet then. He couldn’t just shoot off an email with a link to the newspaper article.
James got a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, a big time program. He might have become a pro, but he blew out his knee, ending his competitive basketball career. But don’t cry for James, he’s doing pretty well in his speaking and consulting gigs.
I’m telling you James’ story because it perfectly illustrates my second point about becoming an outstanding performer – set high goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them. James worked on his game. More important, he worked harder at making sure that the people who could help him reach his goal of becoming a Division 1 college basketball player knew who he was and how good he was. In short, he set a goal and did everything he had to do to achieve it. He brings this same passion and determination to his speaking and consulting work.
The common sense point here is clear. Successful people are outstanding performers. Outstanding performers set high goals. They also have a plan for achieving those goals. They work hard implementing these plans. In short, they do whatever they have to do – not want to do, or feel like doing — to reach their goals. James Malinchak’s story is an inspiring one. He is the kind of guy who will succeed at whatever he tries because he does two things. He decides what he wants to achieve – and then he does everything he needs to do – and more to achieve it.
That’s my take on the importance of goals and the hard work necessary to achieve them. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. Better yet, leave a comment sharing some of your personal triumphs. We can all benefit from reading about them. As always, I thank you for taking the time to read what I’ve written.