One of our high school boys was just offered a spot as a walk-on to a major Division I university swim team. As a result of this offer he was granted admission to the school and helped with a modest academic scholarship. He was told that if he swims fast enough he will also be granted some athletic scholarship assistance.
What a day for this young man!
Indeed what a day for our entire team...
What came with this offer was the following statement from one of the coaches at that university. "What he needs to do between now and this fall is show up every day and separate himself from the common Marin County boy."
Wherever you live there are "common" traits for youth in your area. Here in Marin County California some of the common traits include parents setting expectations very high for their kids; plenty of money to make life at the very least comfortable - some would say cushy; a car to drive when you hit 16; enough money to go to swim meets, buy new gear, not have to work a job (or even a summer job) and in general smooth out the bumps in the road. Parents here don't let their kids fail (at least not very often).
At the risk of generalizing you can drop a blanket over most of the population of the youth in any given area and not miss too many of them. They look and behave much like one another. Sociologists will tell you that the great enigma in any group of humans is that they simultaneously want to stand out from their peers while being a member of the group.
In our team meeting last week Ken put this challenge for our swimmer so beautifully, so succinctly. "Yes, it is important to show up every day. That, in and of itself is not enough. You must be willing to be uncommon." His call to action was for our team to look at what they are doing and figure out how their goals can be met. A very large part of their success will depend upon their willingness - individually and collectively - to separate themselves from the common Marin County youngster.
Be successful. Be uncommon.