Across all domains, excellence is excellence is excellence.
Across all domains, greatness fears no consequence.
Across all domains, the demands of greatness never rest.
Nor do the needs of the world, and the billions of people in it who are disadvantaged simply by the circumstances of their birth.
One of the most powerful ways I hold myself accountable to get smarter, be more effective and to work in greater service to others is that every single day I scavenge wisdom and enlightenment, from simple realization to full on revelation, from everything I see, hear, read or experience.
No matter how mundane, no matter how routine, no matter how insignificant, each moment of each day holds an embarrassment of riches when it comes to learning potential if you know what to look for.
Studying people at the top of their game is a cheater way to learn what to look for and fast track your own enrichment.
For over 25 years, I’ve studied Bill Gates. Together with Melinda and through their Foundation, they’ve materially changed the world for so much the better.
What do we have to learn from Bill Gates? Watch this.
In this speech Mr. Gates lays out for us a blueprint to follow for tackling the world’s most complex problems. To turn caring into action, we must overcome complexity and, here, one of history’s most effective problem solvers teaches us how we can solve our own problems, at our own scale, in our own lives, and within our own work. I’ve been lecturing on this speech since Mr. Gates gave it. Because I continue to follow their accomplishments and process in achieving them, I can honestly say that I owe a large part of my own success, and my unbridled happiness in achieving it, to Bill and Melinda Gates.
I’m not yet certain why, but Melinda Gates sent me a Facebook friend request and it was with a whispered prayer of gratitude, I hit “accept.”
That’s one example of who I study and why.
I study human performance, and I study it for 2 reasons.
First is because I’m an old jock – I predate Title 9 and in elementary school I played on boys teams because I was good enough to – but I also study human performance because athletes have to peak perform, then quickly move on to do it again, and again, and again.
There isn’t an elite athlete who isn’t masterful, whether studied or innate, at emotional separation and benign neglect of the past, and at moving on with a high spirit, and complete peace of mind that perfected preparation will deliver, at the moment of critical need, the performance of a lifetime. Over and over and over again. Day after day after day in training, and in peak performance competition after competition after competition.
I’ve learned tremendous lessons from this guy, Richard Sherman.
“So if I had to pinpoint the most difficult part of my job, I would say that it’s not any one thing I do on any given play.
It’s doing all of it, every play.”
“You may not see it on your TV screen at home because the camera always follows the ball, but if the play is away from me, and I’ve got a fresh backup receiver across from me whose job is to take off down the field and run me away from the play, I have to respect his route. I have to run with him, full speed, like he’s the No. 1 receiver and he’s getting the ball — because there’s always a chance he might. And if I get three different fresh guys off the bench running me off on consecutive plays, and I come back up to the line against their true No. 1 in a crucial situation where I know they like to hit him on a fade, I can’t stop the game and say, “Hold up, I gotta catch my breath.…”
I have to match up — and man up — against their best receiver and do my damn job.
“You probably remember the 2013 NFC championship game when we beat the 49ers — you know, the game where I batted the ball away at the last second to set up the game-sealing interception and send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
I made that play because I saw it coming. Because I was prepared. And I had been banged up — run off on the plays before that one and used up on the the drives earlier in the game. When you get to the fourth quarter, nobody is 100%. That’s when ballers ball. That’s when stars shine. So no matter what had happened previously, the reality was that it was first-and-10, fourth quarter, inside two minutes, and it was me vs. the 49ers’ wide receiver, and one of us had to make a play.
My job was to make sure it was me.
And that’s what I did.”
And with that, Richard could easily be talking about a professional, problem solving Pilates teacher who has to put aside all other matters – all stress, all distraction, all everything – and give their absolute best, to every single client, every single session, every single exercises, every single time.
In life, as in sports, what’s done is done, and all that matters now is your ability to do your best, to create amazing, to give it all, again. And again. And again.
THAT’S what separates the absolute great from everybody else.
Endurance, discipline, being unstoppable, relentless, smart and capable are all implied, assumed, expected, demanded.
By the world.
Simply because you’re here, and simply because the circumstances of your birth were so very favorable.
When I lead teachers to this realization and they get, often for the first time, that enormously powerful, mind blowing, intellectually and sensually seductive satisfaction that comes from creating a session that truly flows the teacher’s and client’s body, mind and spirit together as the single power source we were designed to live and work from and through, they almost always stare at me in disbelief – that this level of engagement was underneath all previous “sleepwalking sessions” they’ve taught – and ask, “how often do I have to do this?” and my answer, both fortunately and unfortunately, is always the same:
You have to be your exquisite best every fucking time.
Being inconsistently magnificent is far worse than being consistently mediocre.
The choice really is ours – choose to be great! – and that choice is informed, sustained and evolved by one thing, and one thing only; our level of tolerance for or, in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Gates, of Richard Sherman, and of, oh hell yes, Rebecca Elizabeth Leone, our level of embrace of all that’s implied in holding ourselves accountable for the demonstration of our greatness, every fucking time.
Make the most of your privileged birthright and be every bit as impactful as Bill and Melinda, and as Richard, but in your own exquisitely unique and exquisitely powerful way.
Now go do it.
And if you get stuck, I’m right here.