(By Bob McCurdy) Buying into the importance of the “until” philosophy could be the most important building block of your success moving forward, as this mindset is a key driver on the path to continued excellence. The word “until” is defined as “up to the time that or when something is achieved,” The key word being “achieved.” The antonym of “until” is “at a later date” or “at some point,” both of which connote a limited sense of urgency and not virtuosity.
Los Angeles Laker great Kobe Bryant epitomized this “until” mindset. A reporter once asked Bryant how long he would work on perfecting a new move on the court. Bryant’s reply was one word: “Until.” The reporter, a bit perplexed, asked the same question a second time assuming Bryant had not heard him correctly. Bryant’s answer was the same one word: “Until.” The reporter finally understood, meaning Bryant would work on it “until” he perfected that move — however long that may take. The premier performers stay with something until they have nailed it, with “time” being an inconsequential variable in their excellence equation.
The “until” mindset, or the “as long as it takes” attitude, requires hard work, patience, and discipline, but also the ability to withstand the boredom that results from the constant repetition required “until” mastery is finally achieved. UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was once asked what made Bill Walton such a great player. His response was, “He didn’t get bored with the repetition that you need to be great.” Walton also exemplified the “until” mindset, embracing the practice, drill, and rehearsing regimen.
Individuals with this mindset in sports, business, or any other profession:
– Strive for the highest possible level of performance. The commitment to hard work is deep. The level of dedication is constant.
– Aspire to improve themselves and only compare themselves to themselves and their own potential.
– Embrace the Zen adage that says once you think you have arrived you have already begun your descent. “Arrival” is not something those with an “until” mindset accept. They constantly dig to identify ways to improve every day, recognizing there is no top of the mountain when it comes to professional growth. They also relish and embrace the purity of its pursuit.
– Possess a clarity of purpose and minimize all extraneous distractions, which facilitates laser-like focus on their task-at-hand. Distractions impede.
“Until” practitioners in radio sales stay after it until they are completely prepared, their decks are perfect, they can present them flawlessly, the advertiser thoroughly understands their USPs, and they achieve their budgetary goals. They meet not only their manager’s expectations but their own as well.
These performers understand “until” is only part of the journey, as after it comes the need to “sustain” and “refine.” They drill relentlessly to sustain and continue to refine to improve and enhance. The “until” process is one of constant pursuit, with those embracing it always looking ahead, beyond themselves and their current accomplishments.
So when exactly is enough, ever enough? Not until.