Not long ago, I was watching a golf tournament on television and saw something I had never really noticed before. The leader of the tournament had just hit a beautiful 330-yard drive down the middle of the fairway, and he was preparing to hit his approach shot to the green. As he stood there, discussing the shot with his caddy, both men pulled notepads from their pockets and started comparing notes. Then they began pointing at various targets on the green and analyzing the treetops to discern the wind’s speed and direction.
It occurred to me that this player and his caddy must have spent an enormous amount of time studying that golf course before the start of the tournament. Apparently, they were aware of every little rise on the green. They were attentive to the best landing spots for the ball, and they were mindful of the unseen hazards that were awaiting a misplaced shot. As I watched this, I realized that any professional golfer who ever wins a major golf tournament must possess a vast amount of knowledge regarding the course he is playing.
This is the way it is in every competitive sport. This is the way it is in business, too – and in life. The people who achieve great things and triumph over the forces that oppose them are the people who have prepared themselves by learning what they need to know. Then they tenaciously pursue their goals with hard work and relentless determination.
Take Your Success in Bites
Success is acquired in small bites, not in one big gulp. Similarly, greatness is achieved incrementally, not all at once. An athlete’s career is not made or destroyed on the basis of one shot – no matter how important the shot may be.
Success is a cumulative process. In other words, you have to start today and do a lot of little things right every single day before you can finally create a track record of achievement that will cause people to see you as successful. The same is true of failure. Some failures can be catastrophic, for sure, but failure is not fatal until it becomes one in a series of many that define your daily lifestyle and your character.
Regardless of what your past history may be, you can start writing a “new history” for your life today. Obviously, it may take you some time to write that new history because it took you some time to write your old one. Eventually, though, the version of your life that you start writing today will be the version that people remember.
The difference between allowing setbacks to destroy us and letting them strengthen us is found in the way we respond to them. When a person allows his worst disappointments to better clarify his purpose in life or when a person allows his temporary setbacks to ignite a passion in his heart for the things that truly matter to him, then these moments of difficulty can become the watershed moments. These can be the times we learn to take control of ourselves and of those things we have the power to influence.
So prepare to take another shot. Learn all you can, and start to do the little things right—today, tomorrow, and every day. Make the right kinds of decisions until you can create a new storyline for your life of achievement and success.
Dave Martin is founder and president of Dave Martin International (DMI) which champions principle-based coaching by connecting, encouraging and investing in business leaders, pastors and individuals. Dave is also the author of several best-selling books including The 12 Traits of the Greats and The Force of Favor. For more information www.davemartin.org