I've been thinking a lot lately about dedication and drive and what motivates people to do what they do. Whether it's their career or their activities, but what makes people "good" at what they pursue. I'm not talking about scores or rankings or how people finish in a race or how high they score on a test, but more-so, their perceived "worth" in what they do and if they feel they're successful, how do people define themselves as "good."
My parents recently came to stay with Soren while Dave and I went to Spain and we were talking about how I got into triathlon and how way back in the day when I was a high school tennis player, I hated practicing. In all honesty, I was a good tennis player, I was really good. Was I great, probably not, but I was good. I was ranked in the state of Virginia and I practiced, but half-halfheartedly. Finally, my junior year, my dad or my parents rather, were "done," I was the last of their three girls and my dad had grown a bit tired of me wanting to travel and signing up to work with good coaches, when I didn't want to practice. In my own mind, I was good and I was happy just going out and banging the ball around, winning matches here and there, but practicing, eh, I just basically wanted to walk out on the court and "see what would happen." I had a bit of athleticism, so I could get away with less practice, but my poor dad, shelling out dollar after dollar, grew a bit tired. A coach finally said he could guarantee me a scholarship to a smaller school to play tennis, but i'd have to practice before school and after school. I thought about it for a day, decided I was too social and decided to stop playing tennis after my senior year in high-school. I wrapped up my senior year being co-Captain and MVP.
I remember walking up on the stage to get my MVP award thinking this was the greatest accomplishment of my life, how awesome it was and how cool it felt. In my mind, I had worked hard, maybe I wasn't the most- "practiced" athlete, but, I knew I had done a good job and I had fun being a leader on my team.
What brings me to this memory? When my parents were out, we were talking about triathlon and my dad actually said to me "if you had told me back that you would be the daughter of mine that would complete two Ironmans, I never would've believed it." I started laughing "DAD!!! WHO SAYS THAT?". My parents are NOT the "insulting" type of parents consumed with "self importance" so I was floored my dad would say that, but.....he was RIGHT. Back then, I just wasn't that into "hard work," I just had fun, which is what kids are supposed to do. BUT-it separates the good, from the "really great."
Fast forward to now and you can ask the same question for a lot of things, what makes people good parents, what makes them good employees. Usually the same thing applies: if you love what you do, you'll be good at it. Sometimes this is true, sometimes the rule doesn't always apply, there are plenty of kids out there that stink at playing piano but they love it, maybe because they take lessons with their favorite friends, but I think the key here is learning how to enjoy something and working hard at it and having YOU think you're good at it.
It doesn't really matter if other people think you're good at it. If you think you're good at it, that's all that matters and really, THAT type of mindset is what makes people WIN. It's the "race day" magic people talk about, the PR's people set at the worst time in their lives, it's believing in yourself. If you THINK you're good at something, it makes you work harder.
Speaking of working hard...I was thinking back to my last Ironman, Ironman Arizona in 2008 and I have some fun pictures of me on the bike, but then I came across this picture.
It isn't even the greatest picture in the world, you'd never frame it, you wouldn't send it in an email, you wouldn't brag about it, heck, do you SEE my hair?
But...it's one of my most favorite pictures from the day, because I see the look on my face and I can see that I'm working really hard and i'm tired!
My run wasn't going as well as I wanted, planned or dreamed about, but I was going what I could to meet my goal of breaking 11:00 hours. I actually had entertained the idea of a Kona slot, but knew I had to run my ass off. I'm not a great runner, heck i'm not even that *GOOD* of a runner, but I work really hard at it. I had somehow found out I was 2nd in my age group when I finished the bike portion and if I could just maintain somewhat of a decent run, *maybe* I could be within the Kona placing. I don't even think I ever blogged about this, maybe I did. But, anyway, my run didn't go as planned due to stomach issues so I couldn't maintain speed, but I still worked really hard and you know what, it turned out to be an AWESOME race for me for the most part! I knocked off roughly 45 minutes from my last Ironman, PR'd for myself in the swim and marathon and I did pretty well in executing my race, so I was happy. Maybe some people say I didn't/don't have what it takes, that's ok....it only matters what WE think.
So, whatever your hobby is, or whatever your job is, it's mindset......go get it.