High Achievers Make Work a Game
Posted by Orrin Woodward on January 14, 2011
The work necessary to win at the highest levels isn’t for sissies, but it can be developed by anyone. There is no shortcut past the 10,000 hours for mastery in any field, but there is a shortcut through the monotony, by making the work a game. When work becomes a game, the tasks of the job become plays in the game. One will never work again, when the tasks are enjoyed as plays in a game. The secret to mastery in any field, hinges upon learning to enjoy the deliberate practice, turning the grueling effort into play. Think about a man, having to choose, on a hot autumn afternoon, between a game of tennis or raking the lawn. One, can be played for hours, sweating profusely, enjoying the thrill of the game. The other, is looked upon with dread, procrastinating as long as possible, completed only through sheer strength of will. Why the difference? Both require effort, both require discipline, both are exhausting, but one is fun, while the other is miserable. This is the difference between play and work. When you view work as a game, then you no longer do tasks, but plays in a game, with the specific intent to win the game. All top performers have learned this principle, performers in business, sports, music, etc, have all mastered work as play. Whether the name is Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Thomas Watson, Jerry Rice, Michael Jordan, and Hank Aaron, Garth Brooks, Josh Bell, or Steven Tyler, all of them, learned to make their profession a game, enjoying the deliberate practice to win in the game.
This explains the paradox of how a few will work so hard, while others think that they are crazy. It’s isn’t work to them, but enjoyment, winning another game. Similar to all the weekend warriors, who give 100% effort into their weekend sports for not pay, but then return to their jobs or business at 50% effort. The weekend warriors can give 100%, even though not payed anything, because they love the game. The highly successful in life, have tapped into this reservoir of energy by creating a game out of their professions. Imagine the productivity explosion, if everyone worked their professions as hard as their weekend sports and hobbies.
Ozzie Smith, the Hall of Fame baseball player, is an excellent example of turning the work into a game. When he was a young, growing up in poverty, he loved the game of baseball. Not having the best equipment, but wanting to develop his skills in fielding, Ozzie used his imagination, creating a game where he bounced a tennis ball off of his cement porch. Ozzie challenged himself daily, moving closer and closer to the porch, testing his ability to field the tennis ball cleanly. The goal was to field the ball rebounding off the porch, developing the hand eye coordination that made him a perennial Gold Glove performer. By making it a game, Ozzie played for hours on end, hurling the ball at the porch, fielding again and again. No coach would have asked the same level of discipline out of a Little League team, but since it was a game, it hardly felt like discipline at all. Just a love of the game developed the hours of practice, developing mastery in fielding a baseball. Smith’s endless hours of deliberate practice, made him the best short stop fielder in baseball, handling line shots with ease, amazing the fans with his highly developed hand eye coordination. Ozzie credited his game for developing the skills applied to his profession. Few, if any, will subject themselves to the endless hours of deliberate practice needed to win, unless they can mentally make it a game. Ozzie made the practice a game, creating the skills while enjoying the time, a lesson that all winners must learn before they win.
If 10,000 hours is needed to master any field, and, if mastery is needed to perform at the highest levels, then, creating a game out of the deliberate practice is a key strategy for success. One must work hard, accepting no excuses, focusing on the long-term dreams, enduring the pain in the personal growth process, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Rewards, that go way beyond the financial, and into the satisfaction obtained when one knows that he truly did his personal best in a worthy cause, allowing one to look in the mirror and see a winner staring back at him. The game is the shortcut through the countless hours, in the quest for excellence. Identifying the field for mastery, determining the skills needed, developing the game to play, and, playing the game over and over, is the most enjoyable way to create mastery and thus excellence. What are you waiting for? Let the games begin. God Bless, Orrin Woodward