A couple of summers ago, I was chatting with my mentor, Joshua Medcalf, and he was adamant that until I moved away from home and experienced a different part of the country, there would always be a ceiling on my personal growth. As I began exploring the possibility of moving to a new city, another special person in my life really gave me the push and encouragement that I needed to pull the trigger. Both of them were absolutely right. Living on my own in a big city, after spending my high school years in a town of 1400 and then attending college 10 minutes from home, was transformative in ways that I never imagined. There’s a lot of world out there, and you just might need to experience it.
2. The people at the top aren’t any different than you or I
Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed about coaching football in the Big Ten. As I got older and eventually played and began coaching at a smaller level, I always looked at those guys as if they were different. In fact, I probably really handicapped my own growth and career for several years with this limiting belief. Now, after seeing and working alongside those coaches at the highest level, I found out they aren’t any different than you or I. They’re regular people, who have their own gifts and shortcomings. Talents and insecurities. Chances are, the people you look up to are the same way. Don’t put them on a pedestal.
3. It takes what it takes
James Clear, one of my favorite writers, tweeted the other day about elite performers (in any field). He said that you have to be obsessed. You have to be lucky. And most likely, it’s a combination of the two.
People are often taken aback when they find out the kind of hours and the work that I was putting in over the last 6 months. But what people seem to misunderstand is that if you want to be in the top 1% of your field, you’re going to have to act in a radically different way than the other 99%.
If you want your body to look like that of an Instagram model, you are going to have to make a lot of choices that normal people don’t make.
If you want to sell millions of copies of a book, or have millions of people listen to your message, you are going to have to spend your time much differently than everyone else.
If you want to have a lot of wealth, you are going to have to spend and invest your money in a much different way than most people.
It takes what it takes…and it’s probably going to take a lot of work.
4. Sometimes it’s about who you know, not what you know
Something that my Cousin Neal has always taught me is that it’s about who you know, not what you know. I always knew he was right, because he is incredibly wise, but over the last few months I have come to appreciate that wisdom even more. The “coaching carousel” in college football is incredibly crazy to follow. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, when the season ends in January, the “carousel” is this mass movement of coaches getting fired/hired and moving around all over the place. I’ve seen first hand how this movement all hinges on who you know, not necessarily what you know. Thankfully, I was able to make several connections during my time there and I know that moving forward it will be those people who will make the difference. It’s never a bad idea to invest or grow your network.
5. The difference is in the details
I had the fortune of working and studying under a master technician during my time at Minnesota. Watching him operate on a day-to-day basis was literally like watching a surgeon perform. Watching him coach our position group and run our meetings was truly a work of art. And the biggest thing I learned from him was that the details made all the difference. 2/3rds of the way through the season, he took over the entire unit. The scheme didn’t change. The players didn’t change. Nothing changed, except for the details. And the performance changed dramatically, with our unit leading the way over the final 4 games, posting a 3-1 record with several impressive wins. If you’re frustrated where you’re at, your answer is probably in the details.