What are you willing to do when no one is watching?

It’s almost the end of January. Already, upwards of 80% of people have fallen behind or given up on their New Year’s commitment to be better.

Why people fail or succeed is mostly about what they’re willing to do when no one is watching.

New Year’s Resolutions are simply a magnified and accelerated version of how people succeed or fail all of the time.

Truthfully, most people and teams fail to achieve their big stretch goals, at least the first time. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a stretch. Knowing how to stay in the minority gives you great advantage.

What does the successful minority do differently?

strategic choicesAnson Dorrance knows a lot about success. As head coach of the University of North Carolina’s Women’s Soccer team, his teams have won 21 of the possible 31 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships that have ever been won. That’s a ridiculous accomplishment. And it’s worth paying attention to.

He said, “The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching.”

Every person you know who is the best at what they do is doing some version of this. It’s not a secret. It’s just that they were alone on the mastery path.

What do you do when no one is watching?

This isn’t just about working long hours. That can be a terrible waste of time. It’s about being strategic where and how you do your work.

Here are 3 questions to help you make your best strategic choices:

  1. What courageous goal are you absolutely committed to?
  2. What skills, abilities, and qualities must you possess to achieve that goal? i.e., what power do you need?
  3. What do you need to do, even when no one knows you’re doing it, to build that power in yourself?

This is not about eating your vegetables or suffering for its own sake.

Yes, stretching will be frustrating, tedious, or excruciating, regularly. Strangely, doing the hard work when you’re all alone also becomes comforting, even therapeutic. It becomes a security blanket, and it boosts your feelings of confidence. It helps you find your imaginary limits and experience the thrill of busting them. It gives you “go to moves” that make you feel powerful when you need to. It builds your resilience.

Anyone can work hard because the boss told them to. Champions in any field are quietly developing their power while no one is watching, when no one asked.

What are you doing? Please comment below and share something you’ve done on your own that’s helped you be successful.

Want some help turning this idea into action? I’ll be leading the Impact Player Launchpad program in March. Among other things, you’ll refine your strategic list of what you need to work when no one is watching—and how. Stay tuned for enrollment information.

  • Scott Mann says:

    I have done my best to help others leave their own tracks in this world – to punch above their weight. That means working to the extreme when no one is looking to stay relevant to those I serve in my tribe. It’s a grind – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • David Martin says:

      I’ve witnessed you doing that, Scott. And I know much more of your work flies below the radar, doing great things when no one is watching. You live this one.

  • Chris Lambert says:

    I can relate to this with my talent of playing the guitar. I frequently get feedback that my ability comes naturally to me but people don’t see the 10,000+ hours I have spent playing guitar. I understand that things come easier to some people but we all have to put in the time if we want to master anything.

    • David Martin says:

      Agreed, Chris. It reminds me of the old saying, “it took her 20 years to become an overnight success.” People don’t see the hard work you put in, so they assume your talent came quickly and easily. Keep practicing and maybe you’ll play the axe as well as me, someday! 😉