My entire life, I have been obsessed with the best. Not in the traditional winner-takes-all sense, but in the ability of the human spirit and intelligence to continually expand infinitely. In last week’s Daily Inspiration, I wrote about the Magnificence of Excellence and the breathtaking awe of experiencing the best humanity has to offer. Today, I’d like to take a moment to not only celebrate this excellence across multiple genres, but to share a common, yet oftentimes overlooked similarity in the people who’ve accomplished these extraordinary achievements.
What do the following G.O.A.T.s (Greatest Of All Time) have in common?
- Michael Jordan – Greatest basketball player of all time (6X NBA Champion, 6X Finals MVP, 5X NBA MVP, 14X All-Star)
- Michael Phelps – Greatest Olympian of all time (22 Olympic medals; 18 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze spanning 4 Olympiads)
- John Wooden – Greatest basketball coach of all time (10X NCAA Champion, 6X National Coach of the Year, 664-162 record)
- Abraham Lincoln – Greatest U.S. President of all time (16th President, successfully led United States through Civil War)
- Miyamoto Musashi – Greatest Samurai warrior of all time 1584-1645 (Undefeated in combat over 48 years)
What all of these G.O.A.T.s have in common is one of the distinguishing characteristics of excellence in any field of endeavor; a relentless, passionate, intensity of focus on only ONE THING. Their energy is not diffused attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. They focused their talent and gifts on ONE THING and sought to improve on their ONE THING each and every day over the course of decades, and for some, a lifetime. Michael Jordan…basketball; Michael Phelps…swimming; John Wooden…coaching; Abraham Lincoln…politics; and Miyamoto Musashi…swordsmanship. They all listened to the inner voice that revealed their gifts, dreams and desires; then chased them with every fiber of their being to become the best in the world at their ONE THING.
In the 1991 movie, “City Slickers” there is a timeless scene, which explains this well. An old and wise cowboy named Curly (played by Jack Palance) is riding along with city slicker, Mitch Robbins (played by Billy Crystal). The dialogue goes like this:
Curly – “Do you know what the secret of life is?”
Mitch – “No, what?”
Curly – (Holding up his gloved index finger) “This”
Mitch – (joking), “Your finger”
Curly – “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh*#!”
Mitch – “That’s great, but what’s the one thing?”
Curly – “That’s what you’ve gotta figure out.”
I encourage you to find your ONE THING and embrace it with everything you’ve got. Every time I’ve focused on ONE THING, I’ve achieved extraordinary results. Every time I haven’t…frustration. As I shared last week, it won’t be easy, it will take a lot of work and a zealot’s focus. But if you succeed, it will bless your life and all of ours.