While coaching at Ohio State, twice a week, almost without fail, we would put our athletes on the Concept II rowing machine (colloquially called the erg) for the same workouts. I liked to call these workouts “opportunities,” although the athletes saw them as “tests.” They were great for improving fitness, and they also served to measure progress.
Variety might be the spice of life, but repetition is the meat of excellence. Learning to do hard things well requires repetition, because you generally start by doing them badly. Few things inspire you to keep doing hard things more than seeing your improvement. This is the main reason we put the athletes on the erg for the same “Tuesday workout” and again for the same “Thursday workout” every week. Two opportunities to compete with your teammates, two opportunities to measure your improvement from week to week, two opportunities to gain belief in the work you are doing and the impact it’s having on you and the women around you.
Our training plan was crazy hard, especially in the university environment where the athletes have so many other demands and distractions. I fully believed it would work. I fully believed in them. Once we designed a process that allowed them to see the positive impact it was having on their performance, their belief grew until eventually training crazy hard became the centerpiece of our culture.
We all yearn to belong and become. Articulating what you deeply believe will attract followers with whom that resonates. Creating a process where people can see themselves becoming the ideal you broadcast will inspire them to do the hard things necessary to realize the vision.
What hard thing do you believe is essential for excellence in your domain? What kind of feedback can you design so that those engaged in the task can see themselves getting better?