It’s not news that you will change your behavior to meet the norms of those who surround you. We consciously and subconsciously adjust to fit in with our social entourage and situational challenges. Read more on conscious selection of your everyday mentors in the post Influence Club: By Invite Only.
What I have discovered is that there is a fine balance between keeping up with the big shots vs playing out of your league.
I recently completed a 9 day cycling challenge in Italy ~ 1000Km & 25,000m of climbing. The group of riders was a lot smaller than expected; just me and 3 guys and the 2 ride guides. My cycling resume, overall strength and lifetime miles logged on my bike were by far the least impressive in the group.
The actual experience was incredibly rewarding as I struggled to keep up with the “big shots” and at times, was pushed to play out of my league. I learned there is a big difference between the two challenges. Being challenged to keep up with the big shots is exhilarating, adrenaline fueling and improves performance to a new level. Playing out of your league leads to self-doubt, feelings of defeat and fleeting thoughts of dropping out (or crashing in the ditch just to get a rest).
The key lesson is to learn how to manage this fine balance to ensure performance is improved and not degraded or abandoned. The goal is to keep up with the big shots and improve your game so that you move up to a new league.
We often set massive long-term goals and strive to move up to the big leagues. Unless we can break down the steps and give ourselves opportunities to actually keep up with the big shots, we immediately set ourselves up for failure by jumping in to play out of our leagues. So, to achieve your massive goals, break down the steps!!
- Take some time to analyze your big goals and define your Big League. Where do you ultimately want to be?
- Check your current status and rank at your current level of play. How are you doing now?
- Identify your Big Shots; 1-3 people who are playing slightly above your level or who may be way above your level but might be willing to play at your level to help you improve.
- Ask for mentorship, a training partnership or an opportunity to observe them in action.
- Push yourself to mimic these Big Shots and try to keep up with their behaviours, habits and level of performance.
- When you’re playing at the same level as your Big Shots… move up a league and repeat steps 1-5.
Not everyone who is playing above your level will be a great selection for your Big Shot group, especially if they are far ahead of you. There needs to be enough of a relationship that your Big Shots will pace you when you need it. You need people who won’t sacrifice their own performance for you but who also won’t actually drop you in the times that matter. When you find someone who makes you feel like you’re keeping up with a Big Shot 80% of the time and that you’re playing out of your league 20% of the time, you have found a great partner for your growth. This fine balance will drive your performance through success and focus your perseverance and grit through struggle.
Next step: be someone else’s Big Shot and help them move to the next level.