This past weekend there were two huge sporting events happening, The Master's and Paris-Roubaix. Both of them are considered majors, or monuments, depending on the one you are referencing. The Master's is one of the major golf tournaments of the year, while Paris-Roubaix is one of the spring classics in cycling.
Regardless of whether you like golf, or cycling, or neither, I want to point out something interesting that happened in these two events. One of the pre-competition favorites didn't win. At the end of both of these events it was an outside favorite, or outsider, that took the spoils. Last weekend highlighted a principle that is applicable to all sports, so let's have a look at it.
Anyone can win at any given time. There you have it. This idea is simple and gets thrown around a lot, but there is much more to it than what first appears. Let's take a brief look at both winners first.
Danny Willett won the Master's Championship at August National golf course. When scrolling through his Wikipedia page, which is rather short, you notice a dearth of results for Willett. The biggest result aside from his Master's win was tying for 6th at the PGA PLayer's Championship in 2015. That is a great finish, but not even close to winning one of golf most prized tournaments like the Master's.
Matthew Hayman won Paris-Roubaix, a grueling bicycle race that all riders dream of winning. Like with Willett, you see that although close to wining some of the other big "momuments" in cycling, his win at Paris-Roubaix is clearly his best result. Both of these men have now won events that have completely changed the trajectory of their careers.
So we begin to see some commonalities between these two athletes. Both athletes were ready to capitalize on the opportunity they were given in their respective competitions. In order for them to do that effectively however, they needed to be ready before the opportunity was presented to them. It seems silly for me to break it down but you cannot be ready to win an event of the magnitude of The Mater's or Paris- Roubaix if you have not laid a foundation that allows you to seize the moment it's "your turn".
Willett and Hayman did not, I'm sure, sit around and think to themselves that one day they'd simply be asked if they would like The Master's green jacket placed on their shoulders or be given the pave stone to hoist above their head as the victor or Paris-Roubaix. Both of these athletes understood that nothing would be given to them, it would have to be earned.
Both athletes simply "went to work" each day thinking to themselves that if they were in the position to show the fruits of their labor that they would be ready. At the professional level, these athletes understand that squandering an opportunity to win an event of this magnitude is devastating. The playing field is so even in the professional ranks that you may only get one shot to show your preparation and determination to your fellow competitors and the rest of the world.
I'll end this post with a few questions for you to answer on your own. Your answers to these questions should help show you whether you are putting yourself in position to set your athletic career on an upward trajectory as well!
1. What athletic event or competition are you most interested in winning?
2. What kind of preparation does it take to give yourself the best opportunity to win this competition or event? If not, why not?
3. If you had the opportunity to win this event today, do you feel confident that you would be able to capitalize on it?
4. Where do you feel that you are deficient in your preparation? This might be the most important question of all.
5. What are you doing today to get yourself closer to being able to achieve this "career win"? You should ask yourself this question every single day.