Work. Hard work. It's a lesson I had learned during my high school cross country years. I'll explain.
Something other than 'gregorian chants'
In terms of performance, there was a dramatic difference between my freshman and sophomore years of cross country. I wasn't bad my freshman year but wasn't incredibly competitive either. I threw together an 18:19 5k best that year but couldn't crack the top 7 for our team (except for one fluke race). I barely could even make it on the top 10 on our roster, hovering between 10-12th best guy most of the season, depending on the week. I participated in the regional and state championship races as a sideline cheerleader.
Sophomore year was completely different. I ended up being in our varsity top 7...actually being a top 5 scorer most of our meets. My 5k best had dropped from 18:19 to a 16:36 in less than a year and got my name on the honorable all-state list that year for the first time. Sure, nature could've played a factor in that, growing into my shoe size a bit more but another factor played in: running more.
I made the connection that the more I ran, the faster I got. The magic was in the miles. That season I logged 1143 miles, more than anyone on the team. There was something to training harder that resulted in a better race. How about that?
Other folks noticed the improvements...namely the parents of my teammates. One mom asked my dad "so what did Drew do to get so much better?" Dad just told her that I ran more and that was about it. Apparently that wasn't enough for her. She kept asking dad "well, yeah, I know that...but what's his secret?" There just had to be something besides putting in the work that helped improve performance (medication aside). Dad finally got fed up and told her "well...he started doing two gregorian chants when he wakes up and then three the night before a race...."
There's a chance she had her son doing gregorian chants in the mornings after that. I'll never know.
Looking for the loophole
We always want to find the fastest way to do something. The path with least resistance. We want to get rich quick. Advance in our careers quickly. Tackle the world with ease. It's not your fault, it's just our human nature working against us.
The one thing I've noticed about uber successful people is that they worked hard to get where they are at. Most of them weren't overnight successes, despite what we read in Fast Company. They outhustled and worked harder (if not harder...smarter) than their peers. They also kept up that momentum after they reached a tipping point, which is a subject for another post.
There's a huge win space for hard work. If hard work were easy, we'd all be on top.
What's your secret to success?