The day following Muhammad Ali’s death, many paid homage to his success in and out of the ring. Just about every social media post coined the hashtag “Greatest” when mentioning his name. With this powerful phase it made me think just what it takes to be called that in the sports world.
For me, being great has to have two different yet equal parts. First, you have to be the top 1 percent in your sport statically. At the end of the day we have to have a measurement or number that we can compare athletes to from generation to generation.
But the second aspect is the one I want to think hard about. These are the things that some might not see. These are things that many not know how to do or even want to do. For me, these are the foundational concrete that forms greatness together. What are these aspects? There maybe be too many to even write but I’ll jot down a few:
Determination; you have to be able to be trusted when the moment of adversity and despair arrive. When adversity looks you in the face do you run or do you face that obstacle in the face and find a way to overcome it?
Morals; you can see this off the playing field. Ali was great at fighting against the Government during war. He stood up for his morals and ethics. He was willing to risk his boxing achievements and belts, to throw it all away in order to take a stand to the inequalities in our country. Sometimes you will need to stand up against the rest of the crowd in order to make change.
Hard Work; this factor of sports is one that has to be intrinsic. You can’t always have a coach or parent wake you up to go to weight training or practice. You have to want it. You’re going to have to make sacrifices, miss hanging out with friends, parties, girlfriend/boyfriend, and sleep. You will have to work harder than your counterparts in school who aren’t playing sports. You will have to balance school work with sports which many cannot do.
Taking Risks; there will be times when taking a chance seems scary. These will be the times when you will face your fears of failing. Maybe you will fail, maybe you won’t. But can you live with yourself years later not knowing what would have happened if you didn’t take that chance? Wayne Gretzky said it best “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”!
Being great isn’t easy. Very few should even be mentioned in the same breath as Ali. It is an obtainable goal but the recipe has to be created on and off the court!