When I was younger (in High School), I never felt talented. I loved being a competitive swimmer for more than just winning. Likely that's because I didn't win very much....if at all. I would qualify for prelims and maybe finals in the 200 butterfly (my specialty) but never did I stand on the podium in first place. I remember my senior year of college qualifying for prelims in the 200 butterfly and then finding out after I had swam that someone had scratched for finals and for the first time ever, I would be swimming in my first state finals! What a great experience for me and I had a best time of 2:19 (I think - from what I can remember).
The only results I can find from my swimming career online are from the NAIA National Championships from college (in Canada - we swam in a meter pool, not yards) and this was also a very special experience for me as I trained really hard in the pool alongside balancing my school-work at Transylvania University (Lexington, KY).
Despite having some good first-time/newbie results in my triathlon and running career, talent was never a word I used in my vocabulary when describing my success as an athlete. Bottom line: I had goals and I worked hard for them. I didn't sit around wishing for things to happen. When I set my mind to something, I allow myself to be patient with the process of working hard for what I want. I don't like to rush things in life because they best moments and experiences are felt after you have committed yourself for weeks, months, if not years to one goal. A goal that perhaps, others have wanted yet were not willing to wait and work for.
It's time to discover your talent. You can't reach your talent if you are always comparing yourself to others.
In the book MIND GYM (Gary Mack and David Casstevens) there are two really great chapters that keep me reminding myself how important goal setting and hard work are to success as athletes and in our personal life.
Appropriately titled "Progress not perfection", pg 60 reads:
Goal setting is a master skill for personal growth and peak performance. I can't stress this too much. Without goals, where will you go in life? If you don't know where you are headed, you're probably going to wind up somewhere other than where you want to be.
Goals keep everyone on target (Dick Hannula)
Goal setting is a way of bringing the future into the present so you can take action now. Goals improve performance. Goals improve the quality of practices. They clarify expectations and help increase self-confidence by seeing yourself get better. Goals also increase the motivation to achieve.
Basic principles of goal setting:
1) Develop performance goals as well as outcome goals. A performance goal, or action goal is something you can control. The outcome will take care of itself.
3) SMART - Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Time-bound.
4) Set daily or short-term goals. The way to achieve long-term goals is to break them down into small steps. Effective goal setting is like a staircase. Each step is an action step - an increment of progress. "Inch by inch it's a cinch."
Pg 65: Don't shirk the work:
We all want to win. Every athlete wants to succeed. But the ones who do are those who separate wanting from being willing to make the sacrifice that winning demands. Pg 67:
In sports, as in life, there is no substitute for commitment. Vince Lombardi called it heart power. "A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life to pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. Once a man has made a commitment...he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It's something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.
It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success. Are you willing to make the commitment and pay the price?