There’s an old saying in the boxing world: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring; they are merely recognized there.” The implication, of course, is that the hard work of winning happens during an intense training regimen. The blood, sweat, and tears on the gym floor; the relentless planning for every possible scenario; the sacrifice and careful preparation. This is the stuff that ultimately enables victory.
Professional athletes achieve at the highest levels by spending 90% of their time training and 10% of their time performing. In most areas of life, however, we do the exact opposite. In fact, most business leaders, parents, and professionals spend closer to zero percent of their time in thoughtful study of their craft or training for improvement. Instead, we labor through the days in full-exertion mode and then wonder why we fail to reach our full potential.
Imagine a star tennis player who never trained and only stepped foot on the court during major tournaments. Or a pro football player who never bothered with conditioning, learning the plays, or running drills with his teammates. Predictably, these athletes would unravel in a spectacular fashion. Which is exactly what we do when we fail to commit the time and energy to our own personal development.
While you probably don’t have the luxury of devoting 90% of your days to training, carving out just 5-10% of your time for focused improvement will quickly improve your performance. If you are in sales, spend a few hours each week in role-playing sessions and carefully practicing your pitch. If you write code, spend time studying others’ work, attending hackathons, and forcing yourself to solve complex problems.
Simply put, a training regimen will jettison your career to the next level.
Just like the pro athletes who develop a written training program with specific maneuvers and goals, you should be taking the same, proactive approach for your own career. Reading books, attending lectures (or watching them online), running “drills,” solving practice problems, doing simulations with colleagues, and even trying to decode your competitors’ approach are all helpful exercises to include in your training plan. If you have the discipline to improve yourself without the prodding of others, you will quickly fly past those who lack the ambition to push themselves to becoming world-class.
Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said, “If I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my saw.” The sooner you begin the process of sharpening your own “saw,” the faster you will achieve your biggest goals. The time to get started is now. Your championship awaits.