In October 1962 a boy named Jerry Lee Rice was born in a small town called Crawford, Mississippi. Jerry grew up in that small town as the son of a brick mason. He developed his focus and handling skills while working for his father’s business, mostly on hot days. Jerry would stand on the scaffolding and catch bricks from his brothers to hand to his dad, with any dropped brick being deducted from his pay-check. Jerry went on to become one of the greatest players in National Football League (NFL) history.
How Greatness is Achieved
There are many more interesting stories as to why Jerry Rice became such a great player. Apart from the brick catching story mentioned earlier in this article, some say he developed his running in his youth by chasing a horse everyday. Jerry himself credits his speed to his chasing down a beautiful black stallion named Pete. He had to run after the horse in order to ride it each day and did what it took to get that reward. However to get to the true reason behind Jerry’s greatness, we need to look at a story from the book Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.
In team workouts he was famous for his hustle; while many receivers would trot back to the quarterback after catching a pass, Jerry Rice would sprint to the end zone after each reception. He would typically continue practicing long after the rest of the team had gone home. Most remarkable were his six-days-a-week off-season workouts, which he conducted entirely on his own. Mornings were devoted to cardiovascular work, running a hilly five-mile trail; he would reportedly run ten forty-meter wind sprints up the steepest part. In the afternoons he did equally strenuous weight training. These workouts became legendary as the most demanding in the league, and other players would sometimes join Jerry Rice just to see what it was like. Some of them got sick before the day was over.
It is clear after reading this story that Jerry Rice success came from his strong work ethic and how seriously he took his practice. He made sure he was well prepared and conditioned before the big game days. Another story that highlights Jerry’s work ethic comes from one of his former team mates Steve Young.
The story that best describes Jerry Rice’s drive comes a few weeks after the San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl in January 1995. I arrived one day at the team’s practice facility to clean out my locker and saw Rice out on the field running sprints and catching passes from the groundskeeper nearly seven months before the start of the next season.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you have played any sport before you have probably heard the saying, “What you do in practice you do in the game.” Jerry Rice is a great example of that lesson turned into reality. He is the all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers. He finished his career with every major record by a wide margin. His career statistics aren’t just a little bit better than the other all-time wide receivers, they’re better by a third.
If you want to be great at anything you are going to have to put in the hours of dedicated practice. You are going to need the discipline to keep going even when the initial energy that spurred you on runs out. You are going to need to be consistent and stick to your program because consistency is one of the primary roots to success.
Apply This In Your Life
What new skill are you trying to learn? What are you trying to get better at? What new habit are you trying to develop? Whatever it is you are trying to achieve in you life right now, you need to ask yourself if you are putting in the required practice? Are you being disciplined and consistent about that practice?
While it may be a good story to say Jerry Rice’s skill were developed by catching bricks and chasing a horse, you may miss out on a key ingredient of achieving success in your goals and ambitions. That ingredient is not a secret, it is being dedicated to completing your practice sessions. With that you will be one step closer to success. So go forth and practice!