“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax” - Abraham Lincoln
There’s an analogy I love to use when I’m talking to people about continuously working on their craft, and why it’s so important that they never stop. And whether you’re a salesperson, an actor, a business owner, a stay at home mom, or anything else, I hope you can learn from this one.
Think about the World Series. The match up between the two best baseball teams in all of the major leagues. These are some of the absolute best baseball players in the world, and they are playing on baseball’s biggest stage. Some of these cats have been playing ball since they were three years old, and without question, they have the “skills to pay the bills”.
Yet, before every game of the series…there they are…on the field….taking batting practice. Fielding ground balls. Catching fly balls. Do you think they’ve forgotten how to hit or field their positions? Of course not!
But the greatest baseball players in the world ARE the greatest baseball players in the world because they’ve never stopped taking batting practice, or fielding ground balls, or catching fly balls. Rudimentary, yes. But essential to the success of the player.
It’s why sellers have to keep selling, actors have to keep acting, managers have to keep managing, leaders have to keep leading, parents need to keep parenting, and YOU need to be constantly sharpening your skills.
It’s important to understand that most of the really great hitters in baseball are not just out there going through the exact same motions they did when they were little leaguers. They’re still swinging the bat of course, but they’re also refining that skill as they go. Many of them study video of the pitchers they will face, and work hard on the mechanics of the swing. Adjusting their stance, improving the movement of their hips and shoulders. It’s a never-ending work in progress. And because of this type of work ethic and attention to detail, they’re the ones out there taking batting practice for all the world to see in late October.
Getting back to basics doesn’t have to mean stunting your growth. It really should mean making sure that you can do those things that are necessary for your success at the highest level possible. It’s true that if we do things the same way we’ve always done them, we’ll likely get the same results or maybe worse, so it’s important that the basics are mastered not only once, but over and over.
Decide to be that extraordinary individual you were destined to be, and then commit yourself to settle for nothing less.
Work on improving yourself as long as you are alive and you’ll never have to worry about being prepared when opportunity comes knocking.