Why it is more important to start than to succeed

In 1991, Lindsay Davenport played her first professional tennis match. She was 15 years old.

Over the next 20 years, Davenport would go on to have one of the greatest tennis careers in recent history. She won three different Grand Slam titles. She won the Olympic gold medal in 1996. She was ranked the No. 1 female tennis player in the world eight times. In total, Davenport earned over $22 million in prize money during her career.

I had the opportunity to meet Davenport at the 2012 US Open. Later that evening, she fielded questions from our group, and I asked her the following….

“Lindsay, sports can teach people many lessons. What lessons did you learn during your time as a professional tennis player that you didn’t learn as an amateur?”

To put it bluntly, I had a personal motive for asking this question. I played baseball in college, but not professionally. So I wanted to know, “What did I miss?”

– James Clear

Davenport’s first response was that she needed to grow up fast. She mentioned the power of the media and that she needed to learn to live her life in front of an audience.

But then she shifted gears and talked about improving her craft and the lessons of competition, hard work and perseverance. These things, she said, she learned long before she turned pro.

In other words, to learn what it’s like to live as a professional athlete, you have to be a professional athlete. But to learn the lessons of sports, you simply have to play your sport.

Peak performance is not necessary for growth

Our world is becoming more and more obsessed with comparison and validation. The mindset that is becoming more common is, “If you can’t be number one or number two, you might as well not play at all.”

(This belief was even celebrated in my MBA program, which may surprise you.)

But according to Davenport, you don’t have to be a professional to learn the most important lessons in sports. You just have to work as an athlete, no matter what level you play at. I’d say that goes for the rest of your life, too. Mastering your craft isn’t nearly as important as trying to do it yourself.

In other words, you learn more from the process of striving for excellence than from the products you achieve.

It’s more important to get started than to succeed

I think a lot of what people call intelligence boils down to curiosity.
-Aaron Swartz
What if choosing to be curious was all you needed to become smarter, stronger, and more skilled? What if the willingness to try something new, even if it feels uncomfortable, was all it took to begin the slow march toward greatness?

Are you curious enough to go to the gym and try it, even if it will make you look foolish?
Are you ready to take a chance and start your own business?
Are you so eager to improve your work that you fight through the frustration of producing something mediocre?
It all boils down to this: whether you end up being the best or the worst, are you ready to start?

The more I look at things this way, the more I believe that being ready to start is the smallest thing in life that makes the biggest difference.

Step onto the playing field. Stand up in a meeting. Raise your hand in class.

Stand under the bar. Step up to the podium. Ask the first question.

Take a risk, get started, and contribute. To your team, to your family, to your job, to your community. Whether you end up number one in the world or not is irrelevant. In most cases, the value you provide is not nearly as important as the pressure you put on yourself to provide it. This is especially true in the beginning.

Having the courage to start is more important than success, because you can only finish something if you start consistently.

Start: Life is not a dress rehearsal

I can’t think of a skill that is more important to the active pursuit of a healthy life than the willingness to get started. Everything that makes for a happy, healthy and fulfilling life – strong relationships, vibrant creativity, valuable work, a physical lifestyle, etc. – requires a willingness to start again and again.

Note: It is not necessary to be the best to be happy or fulfilled, but it is necessary to be in the game.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. Only one person is in the spotlight, but everyone benefits from taking the stage.

Which stage will you enter? What game will you play? How will you start?

Start your first step of trying new things by signup with icehrm.com, the digital HR platform to manage your business activities.

Similar Posts