How to Go from Being Merely Good to Truly Great!

Do you wonder how others achieve greatness in this world while you are still climbing at a snail’s pace? In this episode, Jimmy shares three strategies that will take you from merely good to truly great.

Episode Keys

  • The types of habits that will help you reach your full potential … and then some!
  • Why you must review your progress on a periodic basis to make adjustments in your performance on the path to greatness.
  • When is the best time to practice your skill to achieve mastery?  Every day!
  • You have the same chemical compounds in your body as Michael Phelps.  Why did he win gold medals and you didn’t?
  • The calculation to attain mastery in your life.  (Hint:  It is simpler than you think and harder than you can imagine.)

Podcast Transcript

Many people ask me, “What is the secret from just becoming mediocre to being someone with greatness?” Others would aspire to be even close to what you are. These people are the ones that have a secret of which I will unveil today to help you become a bigger, better, and bolder you. Hey, good morning. This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation. I’m hoping today that you do listen, take heart to what I’m going to share with you, because it truly is life changing. If you follow these simple three strategies on a consistent basis… Now you can’t just do it once and say, “Now I’ve achieved it and greatness is mine.” That’s not how this works. I’m going to share some stories with you today. I’m going to share some strategies and I’m going to share some tactics that are going to take you from where you are today. If you wish to grow. Now, listen, if you don’t want to grow as a human being, if you do not want to be the best of the best, then this show is not for you. I can assure you today that what I’m about to share with you will give you a critical edge over any of your competition. You may have people that think they’re in your market, in your target area. I promise you, they’re not even competing with you on a similar level.

Today I want to share with you what I call, how to go from being merely good to truly great. Now, one of the most powerful books on habits is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book taught me a lot about not only forming habits… Good ones that is. I can do my own bad habits. I’m pretty good at that. But I mean, they also taught me how mental and physical processes that required me to form these habits that take my performance from mediocre to meteoric. We have achieved very excellent growth, unheard of growth in the past couple of years. And guess what was going on in the rest of the world? You got it – disruption. Today, I will share with you these three points within this book that has given me more focus and allowed my mind to think and act on deep work all day without feeling fatigued. Now that sounds like a sales pitch. I assure you it is nothing but the unvarnished truth of how I function.

So let’s get started with the first strategy. You know, genes play a distinct role in the success of many athletes. Sure, they were naturally built or gifted with talent, but the true realization of the talent at peak levels was due to habits or practice of their craft. For example, considered two of the most decorated and outstanding athletes in recent history. First, this man has won more Olympic gold medals than any other swimmer and more overall metals than any other Olympian in any sport. I’m telling you this man is a talent excellence. Of course, I’m speaking of the great Michael Phelps. This athlete, Michael Phelps, is 6’4″. Now the second athlete I wish to bring to your attention and we will analyze is Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, a gold medalist and world record holder in the mile, 1500 meter, and 2000. El Guerrouj, who is one of the greatest middle distance runners of all time. He is 5’9″ tall. Now you’re wondering why am I pointing out the height of these two athletes? Well, this piece of information is necessary to understand what I’m about to disclose to you. You see, both of these athletes, Phelps at 6’4″ and El Guerrouj at 5’9″ actually share the same length inseam on their pants.

Now you’re asking yourself, how can this be? But Phelps’ short legs and long torso are ideal for swimming, but put him in running shoes and he would be a mediocre runner with his type of build. Likewise throw El Guerrouj in a pool with his short torso and long legs and he would struggle to even compete with other swimmers. The average swimmer in the Olympics is 6’4″. That’s average. The average middle distance champion athlete is 5’10”. These two men were perfectly built for the sports they dominated. This use and in the ways that they exponentially gained advantage for them was through their genetics. Now, genes do not determine your destiny. They do determine your areas of opportunity. So, the first of our three strategies today to become great is to seek out areas of work or play that work best with your genetic build and creative mindset.

Ask yourself these questions when seeking a natural state of work or play. First, what feels like fun to me, but work to others? What makes me lose track of time? Where do I get greater returns than the average person? And lastly, what comes natural to me? By picking the right habit, progress is easy. Pick the wrong habit and life is a struggle. So the key to this first strategy is look at your genetics and find the areas that you wish to Excel that come natural to you. By doing this, you will find that you will become greater than those around you, who do not have the genetics or build to be in that particular sport.

So to illustrate the next strategy, allow me to share a short story with you about a young boy in California. In 1955, a young boy of 10 years of age walked into Disneyland that had just recently opened. He was inquiring for a position with the company in Anaheim, California. Within a year, the boy had transitioned to Disney’s magic shops. He learned tricks and learned jokes while trying them out on visitors. He soon discovered that his talent was not magic tricks, but performing in general. He set his sights on becoming a comedian. Fast forward a few years. And this young man began performing in little clubs around Los Angeles. The crowds were small and one night he delivered his entire routine to an empty club. He continued to refine his skills and his routine. In his late twenties. He had worked his way into being a regular guest on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, two of the biggest entertainment shows on the planet at that time. Finally, after 15 years of work, the young man rose to fame doing 60 cities in 63 days, and then 72 cities in 80 days, and even more so, 85 cities in 90 days. He had 18,695 people attend one show in Ohio. Now this is the same young man that years before had performed the entire routine he knew to an empty club. 45,000 people bought tickets for three sold out shows in New York. He became one of the most successful comedians of all time. His name? Steve Martin.

Steve Martin refined his skills by building habits into his daily activities. He used what is called the Goldilocks Rule. Now this rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard, not too easy, just right. The greatest threat to your success in life is not failure. It’s boredom. You must find a means of keeping your brain motivated for long periods of time, perhaps years. Set up reward systems for yourself. The longer you stay with the habit, the greater the reward. Remember, professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way.

The second strategy then is to achieve greatness is the habit of consistency of practice. Even when you feel like you’re climbing inches, with the habit of consistency you will gain miles and miles ahead of your competition. Greatness will be within you before you know it.

Now this third and final strategy to becoming great is to be a master of your craft, your hobby, your career. The formula for mastery is simple: it’s habits plus deliberate practice equals mastery. You see it takes that daily practice to become great, to accomplish a skill much more than others around you, who only have haphazardly perhaps practice. You must internalize the skill for you to master it. To build mastery, you must remain pliable, flexible, and yielding to the changes that must occur in your life to mold you to the master that is within you. Lao Tzu said, “Men are born soft and supple. Dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant. Dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.”

That just gives me goosebumps. To grow into mastery requires that you continually review your performance to see if progress is being achieved in the skill. It is not simply the fact of you practicing, but a review of the growth is necessary. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Bruce Lee, the famed martial artist and actor said, “I do not fear a man that knows 10,000 kicks, but I do fear the man that has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” You see they master that one kick, which makes them ultimately dangerous. So remember that if you’re not growing, you are dying. Now, I don’t want this to be a very negative thought, but at the end of the day, if you aren’t moving forward, there’s only one other direction to go. There is no status quo in life.

So your challenge this week is to be great and take opportunities for yourself to initiate that habit. You wished you had that had held you back in mediocrity for so long. Whatever that habit may be, this is the week you will develop and conquer on your way to mastery. Use these three strategies to become great in your world. Go to our website at and leave us a message of the habit you will conquer that will take you to the top. Go ahead, live your life by design.

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