My favorite movie is Chariots of Fire. The Master/Dean’s speech sets the tone for the film. He invites and challenges the freshman class to “find your one true chance of greatness.”

You and I will probably never win an Olympic Gold Medal or a Nobel Prize. We’re unlikely to be great in the eyes of the world. But we can improve our performance in almost anything we choose. It will take hard, smart work. It won’t be easy or quick.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the work of Professor Anders Ericsson of Florida State University. Ericsson has devoted his life to the study or how people achieve top-level performance. He says it takes concentrated effort over thousands of hours, but not just any effort will do.

To improve dramatically you must try things which are a bit beyond your current competence
In effect you make the commitment to become better even though you know that most of your initial efforts will fail.

Try it. Fall down. Get up dust yourself off. Try again. Fall in the other direction. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, give yourself a pep talk. Then try again. Stumble and fall. Many people stop here or even sooner.

There’s no guarantee that you will improve, no matter how much effort you put in. There is a guarantee that you won’t make dramatic strides if you don’t make the effort. That’s not all. You can’t be great at everything. If you want to become great at one important thing, you must choose it, and let thousands of other things go.

With coaching and persistence, with visualization and discernment, with grit and the notion of how you can benefit others, you may discover that you can accomplish what was only a dream. One of my coaches says that the experts love the craft so much that they embrace the grind. He’s saying that they counted the cost and judged the embarrassment, the frustration, and the pain to be worth the higher level of excellence.

What do you choose to become great at? What step will you take in that direction today?

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Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.