How not to be Mediocre

Once when Josh Waftzkin was preparing for the national competition, all-of-a-sudden his hand breaks 6 weeks before the competition. His doctor tells him there’s no way he can fight in this condition. As opposed to abandoning the competition, he trains himself on how to fight with one arm.

After a few weeks and a lot of painful and frustrating practices, he gets so good at fighting with one hand that he feels like having a second hand is just like having an unfair luxury.

4 days before the nationals the doctor checks his arm again, and tells him he’s completely healed!

He wins the national championship that year. Here’s what he says:

“There are clear distinctions between what it takes to be decent, what it takes to be good, what it takes to be great, and what it takes to be among the best.

If your goal is to be mediocre, then you have a considerable margin for error. You can get depressed when fired and mope around waiting for someone to call with a new job offer. If you hurt your toe, you can take six weeks watching television and eating potato chips.

Most people think of injuries as setbacks, something they have to recover from or deal with.

If I want to be the one of the best, I have to take risks others would avoid. Always optimizing the learning potential of the moment, and turning adversity to my advantage.

That said there are times that body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, and internal side of my game. When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged searching mind. You have to make obstacles spare you with new angles in the learning process. Let setbacks depend your resolve.

You should always come back from a setback/injury better than when you went down.

Once we know how to turn adversity into our advantage, we can create the helpful growth opportunity without the actual danger or injury.

I call this tool, the internal solution: we can notice external events that can grow us, and internalise the solutions without the events actually happening. In this way adversity can become tremendous hope, a source of inspiration.

What people don’t realize is that if you were to only do your best when you are only feeling at best, then you will definitely aim your mediocrity. This reminds me of another quote. “A champion is not the person who does his best on the days that he feels great. The champion is the person who can do his best regardless of how he feels and what setbacks he has.”