The Simple Truth About World Class Performance

Hint: Hard work is the easy part

“If you want to be the best, if you want to be outstanding, if you want to be truly world class – then do what you are wired to do.”

When I was younger I dreamed of being a world class boat builder.  This was my dream.  I knew everything about sport fishing boats.  I knew every make, model, and style.  I lived for boats.  Some kids are into sports.  Some teens are into cars.  My passion was boats, and my goal was to be a world class boat builder.

As I entered college, the path was clear.  I would major in Engineering.  This area of expertise would give me the foundation I needed.  As an Engineer, I would be credible.  People would respect me.  Banks and investors would be knocking down my door to get a piece of my startup boat building business.  Plus, engineering would give me the technical skills necessary to turn my ideas into action.  It would be the magic I needed to transform my drawings into reality.  There was just one problem… one BIG PROBLEM…

I’m not wired to be an Engineer.

Could I have done it?  Yes.25026609231_c949ac5aa4_n

Would I of enjoyed it?  No.

Here’s the hard truth.  I could have focused all my energy on becoming an Engineer.  I could have studied my tail off.  I could struggled my way through the courses and managed to pass the exams.  I could have graduated, but ultimately I would have never been more than mediocre.

 So maybe you’ve heard the joke, “What do you call the person who came in last in medical school?”  – Doctor

Well, Yes.  Still I’d venture to say that there has never been a title that made someone world class.  World class performance is not about a title.  It’s about two things:


Talent & Passion  

Passion is the fuel.  It is the hard work.  It is the dedication.  It is practicing, then practicing some more, then getting a coach and working even harder next time.  Passion is inspiring.  People love passion.  This is why there is a new Rocky movie every 5 years.  Passion is contagious.  It is hard to maintain but also be a lot of fun.  I had an undeniable passion for boat building.  This burning passion is why I know I could have become an engineer.  The hard work would have made it possible.  

Talent is the multiplier.  It is your wiring.  It’s how your brain works.  It’s why you are naturally good at some things and not so good at others.  Talent is what comes easy to you.  Sometime we take talent for granted.  We assume everyone is good at this.  No.  Everyone is not good at what you are good at.  You have natural, God-given talent.  I do not have the natural talent to think and problem solve like an Engineer.  This is why I would have been a mediocre Engineer.  

    World Class Performance  

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If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

-Michelangelo 

Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, and Michelangelo all have something in common.  They discovered where TALENT & PASSION intersect.  They were all naturally gifted at their craft, and they were all extremely hard workers.  

Hard work is not enough.  It is crucial for success, but it is not enough.  You must discover your talent.  When you put the two together… magic happens.


If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re thinking –  “David, you don’t have to be an Engineer to build boats.”

You’re wrong.  (Just joking, of course you’re right.)  The good news is I found another path into boat building.  As it turned out, I graduated with a business degree and took an internship with a local boat builder.  That turned into a full-time job and now years later I’m thrilled with how everything worked out.  

What About You – Have You Figured It Out?  

How are you wired?

Where is your sweet spot?

If you want to be world class, remember hard work is the easy part.  Not that hard work isn’t hard.  It is, but lets be honest, its no secret that hard work is required to be successful.  Everyone knows this.  It’s common sense.  The tricky part is discovering where to focus your attention so you can get the most return for your effort.  Michael Phelps may be the greatest Olympian of all time, but he would have been a mediocre talk show host.  Have you seen his interviews?  He is a nice guy, but he’s not exactly next in line to take Jimmy Fallon’s place.  

So what about you?  How are you wired?  

Over this Holiday season, carve out some time to consider your talent and your passion.  Where can you focus your energy to become truly, world class?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/35434449@N08/28899308673″>Hook-up Wire Spool Set – 22AWG Stranded-Core – 10 x 25ft</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52394603@N02/25026609231″>049 | 366 – The grind never stops</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/44921934@N00/90951570″>Michelangelo – The Creation of Man</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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