This Is What It Takes To Become World-Class

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To the untrained eye, originals will seem to have superpowers. Other originals and creators will be impressed but they know what the roadmap to get there looks like.

What if I said you had to climb “El Capitan” without any rope, harness, or protective gear? Keep in mind El Capitan is a 3,000 feet rock formation, located in Yosemite National Park.

Most of you would think I’m crazy because doing something like that is impossible. Well, it turns out Alex Honnold has done it.

To all of us, this will look like a superpower but to other climbers, it doesn’t. Yes, they are amazed at this feat and I’m sure they have a high-level of respect for Honnold and his accomplishments. Most of them won’t have what it takes to get there and break the record. Yet, they understand how it can be done, they understand what it takes to accomplish the task, and they have what it takes to make it happen (discipline, purpose, commitment, and many other requirements).

Honnold shared a bit of his strategy during a Tim Ferriss Show podcast episode. It turns out he actually practiced the route several times with safety equipment. He did it until the point he could visualize every step of the climb because he knew each and every detail. He even knew which were the best points to rest.

Knowing how to be an original doesn’t mean you will be one. An idea won’t make you a genius until it is executed. Also, pure execution without ideas might not create something inspiring or unique. So what are the elements that are part of being an original? Can we all become an original?

In our last blog post, we explored how you can be an original without reinventing the wheel. We identified some originals, and some activities that originals do, to have a clear picture of what makes an original.

Now, we will dive into the strategy and tactics that you can implement to become an original within your area of expertise. Or even how can you become a master in any area, to then become an original.

Warning!

This will not happen overnight. It will take time, effort, and some long and lonely nights… but it will be worth it!

Action Leads to Growth

MATT:

Before we move on, you need to ask yourself, do you really want to be an original? Do you really want to be unique? Do you really want to be a leader? Do you really want to make a difference?

There is no shame in answering no. Most people live an uninspiring life and there is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, you need to know the sacrifices it takes if you do want to be original, unique, a leader, and make a difference.

You will go through a lot of suffering and failure on your way to originality.

I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.
— Muhammad Ali

Are you ready for the pain? I will be the first to try and talk you out of being an original because of the hardships. My favorite song is “Down in the Valley” by the Head and the Heart because of the lyrics:

“I wish I was a slave to an age-old trade

Like ridin’ around on railcars and workin’ long days

Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways . . .”

Those lyrics resonate with me as many days I desire to just have a “normal” life, but I know that is not why I was put on this earth. Maybe you are the same. There is something within you which craves originality, to be different, and to make your mark. If that is you, below are two ways to get started.

Become the Minority

Some of you will laugh at this because you are routinely a minority, yet you might not be actively seeking opportunities to be a minority. Let me explain. You will automatically be unique if you are the minority in a group for the practical reason you are the only male, female, Indian, Muslim, or other distinguishing factor.

The benefit of being the minority is that you will be exposed to new ideas. It is a running joke with my friends where I am regularly the only white male in a group. This has allowed me to see the world from different perspectives, learn about struggles others face, and challenged my way of thinking. I am grateful for my contacts because they are unlike me.

Get around people who don’t look like you and all of a sudden you will become an original automatically. The benefit will be an expanded view of the world, new friendships, and introduction to amazing food :)

Time Alone

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Being an original means long stretches of time working towards something special, trying new ways of accomplishing tasks which will likely fail, and countless nights waking up at 3:00 am questioning your life decisions.

One of my favorite personal pictures is rather simple. It’s a shot of a hallway from the C.T. Bauer College of Business where I attained my MBA. The photo is basic. Just a hallway with no people and only a few lights on, yet it represents something to me. The photo was taken at 5:48 pm on a Friday. I was a full-time MBA student and had started my own business. That night I was working on a client project and realized I was the only person in the building. I was alone, building my business, and missing out on Friday night with my wife and son.

Being an original means time to yourself working while others are out. Are you willing to be alone and work on your craft, idea, business, and skills? If the answer is no, then originality will elude you. If you can withstand the solidarity, you are on your way to uniqueness.

ALEJANDRO:

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”

In that quote, believe it or not, is everything we need to know to become a master and world-class at something.

Keep in mind that “not getting it wrong” will mean different things in different contexts. In basketball, if you get it wrong only 50% of the time (shooting) then you are a master. In baseball even getting it wrong 60% of the time (batting) will make you world-class.

Yet, the one thing that will never change is the practice. Yes, “We talkin’ bout’ practice” again. But it’s not just practicing anything, is practicing the right things.

How Do We Know What To Practice?

Before you start doing anything you must do some research on the area/topic to see what has already been done. Many of the problems we face today have been faced throughout the history of humanity and others have been able to solve them already. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. This is working smart.

Not so long ago (about 2 years) I didn’t know anything about networking and I had about 200 contacts on LinkedIn. Since day one of Business School, it was clear that I had to learn about it. Nowadays, there is no excuse to not find books, videos, e-guides, or any type of resource on any topic.

That is exactly what I did.

I searched for the best TED Talks and books on networking, making connections, body language, etc. Then I obsessively consumed all that information. All this while still having all my regular responsibilities and commitments as a full-time MBA student, part-time job, president of the MBA Consulting Club, president of the SURE Incubator, adapting to a new language and a new culture, etc. I share all this to make it clear that if I was able to do it you can do it too, you have to be able to draw energy from all the obstacles that you will face. This is working hard.

All this prep-work is just to start, which is the most important part. All of this is to start practicing the right things. After consuming all that material I then set a goal of attending 3-4 networking events per week (it could be big events, informational interviews, coffee chats, conferences, happy hours, etc.). The goal was to practice what I had learned by consuming the information so that I could start getting better at it.

Two years after that, I have about 1,600 contacts on LinkedIn (and still growing) and I know get invited to conduct Networking Boot Camps at different organizations to help students, professionals, and business owners grow their social networks to take their careers and businesses to the next level.

What would you like to be world-class at? Share with us in the comments, we might be able to point you in the right direction or share with you some valuable resources on that topic.

Working Toward World-Class is a Constant Journey

Even those who are world-class continue to practice. They work on their craft, learn, and innovate. There will never be a point where you can stop. The reward of being at the top requires sacrifice. 

Fortunately, you don't have to do this alone. The BizLatte team is here for you! Each month we send exclusive resources through our monthly newsletter. Sign-up below and begin your ascent to world-class status.