When I was in 9th grade I tried out for my high school’s JV volleyball team. My high school was only grades 10-12, so I was technically in junior high at the time. Back then, volleyball wasn’t a very accessible sport. There weren’t any recreational leagues to play in the same as soccer, baseball, football and basketball. Any exposure I had to the sport was on TV or in gym class for maybe a couple weeks a year. But nonetheless, I was athletic, I could jump, and I thought I did really well in my tryout.
When I didn’t make the team I was devastated and pissed off at the coach. I spent the next year studying the sport, working out, and attending weekly open gyms where I could get in some practice time. When the next year’s tryouts came around I was ready. I made the team and was starting on JV. I had several really good coaches that year who taught me a lot of the fundamentals, but what made the biggest impact in my development as a player was the summer after my 10th grade year. Two things happened that summer: 1.) I attended a volleyball camp at Penn State, and 2.) I played almost every day with members of the varsity team, and some of the former players that had just graduated.
The camp taught me how to move and anticipate better, but being able to apply these new skills and play the game with people who were better than me really brought my level of play up a lot. By the end of the summer I could hold my own with these guys, and when the next season came around I was starting on the varsity team.
This concept can apply to any sport, any career, and any aspect of your life that you want to improve. As Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing this exact thing. There are 6 players on a volleyball team. If the other 5 are better than me, it’s going to be make me better.
Routine is not the enemy. Complacency is the enemy. It may feel great to be a big fish in a little pond, but you’re not going to continue to grow that way. You need to be the little fish and you need to surround yourself with fish that are bigger, faster, stronger, smarter and more successful than you.
If you don’t put yourself in situations with people that are at a higher level than you, how do expect to get any better? Everyone needs a rabbit to chase. Everyone needs a mentor or a coach. If you’re the best athlete in the room, if you’re the smartest person in the room, if you’re the most successful person in the room…Find a new room.