In every profession, there is a transcendent superstar. Someone who leaves a legacy behind, someone who alters the course of the profession and inspires future generations. With the Olympics, it is easy to start talking about transcendent star power with the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Lebron James, Misti May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings grabbing our attention. Watching Phelps swim his last race this past Saturday got me thinking about the impact that I hope to leave on my profession, and has me thinking about the amount of preparation and effort that is required to leave an impact on any profession.
I listened to Phelps in an interview talking about why he has done this time around, at the relatively young age of 27. He said that he has accomplished all that he had set out to accomplish and that he was not up for staring at a black line under water for four hours a day anymore. I can fully appreciate that sentiment and realization. The commitment to excel like that takes hours upon hours of commitment and dedication. In the corporate world, it is difficult to sustain that edge. Most of us are not in a position by age 27 to have claimed legacy status. So how do we maintain the commitment, drive and energy that is needed to sustain ourselves over the long term?
It is a difficult task, and there is no easy solution. But part of the solution rests in our ability to slow down, recharge and refocus. It takes time and effort to learn how to slow ourselves down in order to maintain a hyper competitive speed when we are ready to get back at it. I like to compare it to the maturation of an NFL quarterback. You hear all the time how the game “slows” down for the greats. It gets easier, because they learn how to process everything they see, filter what is not important and take action when the time is ready. They do this all, by the way, in a matter of seconds. The point is, it takes time and practice to get yourself to this point.
If you want to make an impact and leave a lasting legacy behind, you need to learn what drives you and what motivates you. It is also imperative that you learn how to recharge and refresh. It is a practice you should invest in every day. The effort you put in now will pay off longer term as you build your legacy.