Many of us at one time or another have referred to someone as being on “another level”. This term first became very real to me in sports. Many years ago I spent much time playing recreational sports, particularly basketball and tennis. I usually played against people with skills similar to mine but on rare occasion had the chance to play against people on another level. They could have probably beaten me blindfolded as their skills far exceeded anything I had seen. It was a humbling experience. Professional sports have long recognized this breakdown of different levels and even have leagues for each level. Major league baseball, for example, has the majors along with the minor leagues broken down into AAA, AA, and A levels. Different levels are not only true of individuals, but also of teams and organizations. Classic business books have been written about companies who reach a level above their competitors, such as Good to Great by Jim Collins along with many others.
What causes individuals and organizations to reach another level? I believe there are three.
- Dedication– Webster’s on-line dictionary says dedication is “a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose.” Those who reach another level have an intense desire to reach that level. They have a goal and are fully dedicated to achieving the goal.
- Discipline– Discipline includes acquiring the knowledge necessary to reach the goal and then using that knowledge to establish a planned structure and process to follow consistently. Jim Collins says discipline “is consistency of action-consistency with values, consistency with long-term goals, consistency with performance standards, consistency of method, consistency over time(Collins, Hansen, p.21).”
- Practice– Companies and individuals that are dedicated and disciplined will do whatever it takes to reach another level. They practice and work relentlessly to achieve their goals. Some say Jerry Rice is the greatest football player of all time. He described his off-season workouts as follows, “Almost daily, we met for grueling workouts at seven thirty a.m. three times a week we would run up a two-and-a-half-mile hill, running against the clock. The last eight hundred yards was a steep incline to the finish. It is a real gut check when you are a half mile out. If you couldn’t endure the pain, if you couldn’t see yourself at the top level(emphasis mine) in the fourth quarter, the hill wasn’t for you(Rice, p.68).”
Those who reach another level do so by being dedicated, disciplined, and practicing their craft relentlessly.
*Collins, Jim, Hansen, Morton T. (2011), Great By Choice
*Rice, Jerry, (2007), Jerry Rice Go Long