Excellence or Mediocrity in 2015. Here’s the Difference.

I play guitar. Eric Clapton also plays guitar. I have eight fingers and two thumbs. Eric Clapton has eight fingers and two thumbs. We both have shoulders where we can sling a guitar, we both are right handed and we both have Fender Stratocasters and we are both uncommonly good looking.  🙂  So why is he renowned for his playing and I am not?

playing guitar_800

There are two significant differences between him and me.

  • One very obvious difference is that he’s considerably older than I am. That leads to a far more important difference that’s not easy to see at a glance.
  • It’s what’s between his ears. The difference between a novice and a professional is mental. Literally! He knows the fret board, notes, chords & keys and so do I. The difference is that he paid the price in countless hours to learn, try, test, perform & practice way more than I did. He knows things that I don’t know.

Eric Clapton

I’ve heard it said that the expertise in nearly any field is 90% mental. There are strong, fast athletes out there that are not famous or well-known. Why, because the difference between mediocre and exceptional is found in the thinking. Lets use football players for an example. Let’s say you have two football players that have identical stats in every category, they are the same age, height, weight and strength. They both run at the same speed, catch the ball with the same regularity and hit with the same force. They appear to be identical in every way. However, one of them has been playing since he was 7 years old while the other one started last year. For the one, his training, drills, practices and the many games he has played since he was a little boy have given him the mental advantage. He can read, understand and anticipated his the opponent’s moves quicker and more accurately than the guy who started last year. That gives him a tremendous advantage over the other.  In war, being able to read and anticipate your enemies movements is an extremely valuable asset.  Which football player has the better chance of reaching excellence? They both do, but one can have it soon while the other has some training and development to do.

It comes down to situational wisdom.  Each of us has expertise in some area where we have tripped over the same stuff so often that when it shows up now, we see it coming a long way off and can take steps to avoid mistakes and problems.  Situational wisdom – that’s what practice and experience bring, and situational wisdom is the difference maker.

Ed Van Halen

Eric Clapton has practices certain things on his guitar so often that his mind is able to conduct his fingers with what to him probably seems like an afterthought. Do you know why Edward Van Halen is where he is today? It’s because when everyone else was out on dates, Edward was sitting on the edge of his bed practicing scales, tapping & flamenco style hammer-ons and pull-offs.  There are great herds of guitarists that have all tried to copy or at least borrow from Edward’s style. That’s influence! All because he paid the price others would not pay.

I heard Seth Godin tell a story once about when he worked for a toy company. One Christmas day he decided to go into work for about 4 hours and just answer the phones. No one told him to or knew he was going to do it but he just decided to go in and try to help the customer with questions. Some time later while in a meeting with other company managers and executives, the question came up about

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

what the customer might think about a product that they sold. Seth spoke up and said “When I was in here answering phones on Christmas day, this is what the parents and kids were saying”.  All voices immediately fell quiet. Seth had just become the expert in the room. What did it cost him? 4 hours on Christmas day. What really happened though, was that he went further than the other people in the room were willing to go to be better at his craft. Because of that, he became the “Go to” guy for customer feedback.

My pastor, Kenneth W. Hagin says it this way, “If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion”.

As we launch into 2015, what are some things we can do to help us move forward?  Are there areas in your private or professional life where you can learn more and increase your expertise? Take some time this week and identify three areas where you can “amp it up” and make yourself more valuable to your company, customer, church or volunteer group.  Write them down and use them to set your goals for the coming year.

If you want to get ahead in your job. Learn all that you can possibly learn about your job. Go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Then you will be qualified for future promotion.     Kenneth W. Hagin

What do you want to become better at?  I would love to hear your comments.  Also, please feel free to share this with others that you think might benefit from it.

My prayer is that artmills.org has helped and encouraged you this year.  I want to invite you to drop me an email at contact@artmills.org and let me know how I’m doing.  Also, that would be the perfect time for you to let me know what other things you would like me to touch on and write about.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  Have a Happy New Year!  See you in 2015!