Ever since I was little, excellence has made me cry. I remember watching the Olympics with tears running down my face. Once my mom walked in and asked me what was wrong. I replied, “I don’t know. I like seeing them win.”
Even today – mastery and raw talent still moves me to tears. I’ve cried during performances, during music shows and even during great acting displays at the movies.
This weekend we watched “20 Feet From Stardom” – the winner of the Oscar for best documentary. It is about the untold true stories of some of the most amazing back-up singers behind some of the greatest legends of the 21st century. The women who sang back-up for Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Sting and so many others. I was moved to tears at their raw talent, their passions and the work they put into their careers.
I was also moved by their lack of entitlement, their ability to just continue to push ahead no matter what – their commitment to Mastery.
I see my industry heralding overnight success left and right. And I don’t think there’s an ounce of truth in any of it. Every person who has achieved success has learned to Master something – and that doesn’t happen overnight.
I’m lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by successful entrepreneurs – and the one thing I know for sure is that all of them practice Mastery and Excellence.
They all have a few traits in common:
- They work even when they don’t want to.
- They go the extra mile, even when they are tired.
- They are disciplined, focused and clear.
- They don’t blame anyone else for their failures, and they don’t allow themselves to complain or be negative for long periods of time.
- They know how to pick themselves up after a fall, dust themselves off and keep moving ahead.
- They have honed their crafts, skills and talents over many years – and they never stop practicing and learning.
- They believe there are no limits on what they can achieve, learn and do.
Becoming masterful is something that we often don’t talk about – but I believe we should. We need to be clear about the work that goes into getting good.
- I did over 70 sales conversations to fill my first group program with 10 people. It was only at the end that I got really good at selling and I’ve done thousands more since then (and I’m still learning).
- I did more than 30 speaking events last year to get more comfortable speaking before my 3-day event (and I’m still getting comfortable).
- I’ve been through hundreds of events and programs in order to hone my skill sets around marketing, money and business (and there’s so much more to learn).
And it’s not just me. One of my mentors, Larry Wingett – who now gets paid upwards of $30,000 for one keynote, talks about speaking in hundreds of rooms for free for years as he was getting started. Suzanne Evans tells a great story about giving her first talk to an empty room (and crying in the bathroom before her talk because no one came). Today she speaks to rooms of thousands.
According to Michael Jordan, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Mastery and excellence are about practice, patience, and living through the discomfort. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that you aren’t great at something and then doing it anyways – badly – until you get good.
It’s about persisting through those times when it seems like no one wants you and focusing instead on getting so good that they can’t ignore you.
It’s about not beating yourself up for not being perfect now – and instead making a plan of practice, mentorship and action to get you better.
It’s what the greatest entrepreneurs in the world do naturally. And it has nothing to do with overnight success.
I know that you too can become excellent and masterful in your business. Just keep practicing. Keep yourself in action. Be willing to take big risks. Be patient when you fall. And get back up and keep going no matter what.
It’s the work of everyone who is truly extraordinary. Mastery. Excellence. It is this that we will look back on and be most proud of ourselves for achieving.
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