At the end of Sporting Nation (a documentary on ABC) there were some great, thought provoking insights from some elite athletes. My favourite was from Herb Elliot.
Herb recounted a conversation he had early in his career, I think it was with his soon to be Olympic coach. After some discussion his coach said “so why do you want to do nothing but focus on running around and around in circles for the next 3 years, 7 days a week?” His coach answered for him (I’m paraphrasing here):
“You want to have such an intense narrow focus because it will:
- allow you to experience things you will never otherwise experience
- allow you to understand things about yourself that you never would if you didn’t push yourself
- give you a great sense of self-respect
- give you a sense of self-reliance
I find it fascinating listening to the experiences of people that have achieved greatness at something. Their experience is, at a psychological and philosophical level, always so applicable elsewhere.
Here were some other take aways:
- There will always be negative things in your mind, you must learn to beat them with your attitude and not take notice of them.
- What you do must be about the intrinsic value of the activity itself rather than the extrinsic reward.