South African Olympian Ryk Neethling likes to say it takes about 15 years to become an overnight success.
That’s so true. We saw real excellence at the London Olympics. But in the world of sport nothing happens immediately. It takes years and years of hard training to reach a point of true excellence.
It takes a lot of other things too.
At certain times, certain places in the world attract and foster excellence. Right now Britain has the very best cyclists in the world. The best Greco-Roman wrestlers are coming from Iran. The best table tennis players come from China.
Look at Fish Hoek. At least 5 of the world’s top ten ocean paddlers come from Fish Hoek, which is (with respect) a totally nondescript little town at the bottom of Africa.
Why? It’s certainly not genetics – some of them are of English descent, some Afrikaans, some from other nationalities. But here’s one thing they all share: sunrise. At six o’clock, when the sun comes up, those guys are out training on the water. It’s not easy to get up in the dark, summer and winter, and get out in the cold sea. It takes self-discipline. And they work hard.
These are some of the hardest conditions you can imagine – you’ve either got a pumping North West wind, or a howling South Easter. In the past few years two swimmers have been eaten by sharks in the bay. One other person lost a foot to a shark. And a paddler had the back of his kayak bitten off. When a paddler goes to work in the morning in Fish Hoek they’re not sure they’re going to come back again. But they go anyway.
There’s fierce competition out there too. The very best in the world come here to train. They know they have to be on the right field if they’re serious about competing.
It’s the same in other endeavours in life. If you’re an IT whiz you set your sights on Silicon Valley. Talent is only part of it. Dedication is only part of it. Hard work, sometimes in phenomenally tough conditions, is only part of it. Here’s the key point – it starts with where you are.
So my question to you is: wherever you want to be in life, are you in the right place to make it happen?