I’ve met a lot of really inspiring and successful people in my life, especially with being in professional sports. Athletes who have taken their natural abilities and refined them to dominate in their space, to entrepreneurs who took a small idea and creatively grew it into a highly successful business.
There’s a common thread that runs through all of their success stories: They had vision! They knew what they were good at and they worked on harnessing their gifts to create goals only they could go after.
How many times have you met somebody that was really talented, but they weren’t doing anything related at all to what they should be doing? They know they are called to be doing bigger and better things, but it’s never really materialized for them.
Maybe this is you. Maybe you have dreams stored up that have never come to fruition. You have specific skill sets that elevate you above the rest, but you’re nowhere near your potential or where you should be at this stage in your life and career. How do you get there? Here are some key things I’ve discovered from my conversations with successful folks who learned how to use their gifts to reach their goals, and how you can too:
Get your head in the game
Practicing mental toughness is essential. Having talent is great, but there’s always going to be somebody else that is better than you. How do you respond? Do you give up and accept the fact that you’re never going to be as good, or does that actually make you want to work harder? There will always be naysayers. Take the criticism and instead of letting it get to you, turn it into constructive feedback that you can use to improve yourself and your game.
Know who you are
Identity is just as important as having vision. You have to be rooted in the confidence and belief that you were created a reason. There is a purpose and a plan for your life. Struggling with identity issues only leads to insecurity, anxiety and self-doubt. Stop focusing on what everybody else is doing and comparing yourself to them and zero in on those unique things that you can bring to the table. This is not about being arrogant. It’s about believing that you have something to offer that nobody else can and having the courage to step out in faith to show others what you can do.
Stop listening to everybody
In today’s social age, everybody has an opinion and they’re not afraid to say it, especially when it’s in front of a computer screen. You have to stop listening to everybody and listen to the right people. Find wise counsel in the form of a good friend or mentor who can point you in the right direction. Somebody that can help you realize your potential.
I had a teacher in elementary school, Mrs. Edwards who was a major influence in my life and career. She saw past this kid who struggled with ADHD and helped me learn how to focus, which gave me the confidence to see past my limitations and open up my possibilities.
Establish your priorities
Establishing the right priorities will absolutely set you up for success, but so many people fail because they focus too much on knocking the next task out, rather than thinking about the big picture. I remember while other kids were outside playing with each other, I was in the gym. Establishing priorities also means having the discipline to stick to it. Focus your energy on doing things that help you get one step closer to your goal, rather than just surviving and trying to make it through another day.
Make the right moves
I’ve never walked into a game without knowing who my opponent was and having a plan. So many times talented people never find success because they didn’t look at the playbook and determine the right strategy. They pick a path based on security and stability and avoid any risk. Some of the most successful people I’ve talked to got to where they are because they were willing to risk it. To them, it was more about learning the process and being refined to be able to level up, rather than focusing on the reward.
Find your champion(s)
At OSU Coach Spiller was a huge advocate for me. He had me on a path to the NBA before I even knew it, working me with professional-level practices, all in an effort to get me prepared for my next chapter. We all need our champion and you know who this is. That someone that sees your potential even when you can’t and will push you to step out of your comfort zone because they have vision to see where you could ultimately go. Use them and thank them often.
In my new business ventures I will be the first one to admit that there are times I don’t know I’m doing, but that doesn’t stop me. I’ve made it a point to surround myself with the right people that can continue to teach me. A big character flaw is thinking you have to be the best person in the group. Look at people like Eric Clapton, Prince, Jimmy Hendrix, all self-taught musicians who learned how to enhance their gifts through knowledge, persistence and dedication. The most successful people never stop learning. They continue to soak up knowledge like a sponge.
Be a servant
How many times have you looked at somebody successful and thought to yourself, “well they made it because they were in the right place at the right time.” That may be true. After all, a little luck never hurt anybody.
Do you want to create a little more luck in your life? Here’s an idea…Reach out and be sociable. Help others. Be a servant leader. Remember the phrase, “what goes around comes around?”
Be present in the moment and look for opportunities to serve others. It’s incredibly easy for us to get caught up in our pursuits that we can miss those moments to really bless someone and make a difference in their lives. Don’t dismiss those moments. They can have a profound impact on your success and your outlook on life.
Here’s the thing…you weren’t meant to go through life without purpose or intentionality. Do me a favor and press pause in your hectic schedule one day this week and take a few moments to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. How can you use your specific gifts to change your career, your life and make a positive impact on those that are within your sphere of influence? The last you want to do is look up at that clock and see that time is running out and you haven’t done the things you’ve wanted to do. Use the gifts you have to do the things you were meant to do.
Take the shot and make it count!
Listen to the latest episode of my podcast, Betting on Yourself. Make sure to subscribe to my email list to stay connected with me and never miss an update!