Growing up I played a lot of sports. And springtime always meant baseball season. Thinking back, the coaches we had were all great. In the early years, most of the coaches were volunteer dads who had sons on the team. But as we got older and the game became more technical, we started having coaches that simply coached for their love of coaching.
Regardless of who the coach was, I remember I learned so much. And it was more than just learning the game of baseball. It was learning how to work as a team, how to encourage your teammates and help them succeed, how to win with class, and how to accept defeat and bounce back. There was no particular magic to these skills—it was just repetition, practice, and dedication.
Dedication is giving entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause. To dedicate is to assign, commit or give over. For example, if you dedicate a song you’ve written to a friend, it means the song belongs to them. If you dedicate yourself to a project or activity, it means you give yourself to it wholeheartedly.
There was one coaching mantra that was consistently preached from every coach I ever had. And for the simplicity of these nine words, they cut right to the heart of the dedication required for success—the way you practice is the way you play.
Practice seemed to always be a pain. It just didn't have the same glamour as the real games. The games were fun but practice felt like work. And it is much harder to motivate yourself to work in lieu of motivating yourself to go play.
There is a local musical artist in Seattle named Ben Haggerty, better known by his stage name Macklemore. On his 2012 album, The Heist, there is a song titled "Ten Thousand Hours" that has some lines that I especially enjoy:
...I study art. The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint—the greats were great 'cause they paint a lot...
The song is based on the theory that it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. But it is more than just putting in the time—it is loving and having the dedication to practice. For example, an expert software developer does not just spend all day crunching code at work—after leaving work they will program on their own time. Likewise, the elite football player is not just the guy who spends all day on the practice field with his teammates. After practice he goes home to watch game films—something Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Russell Wilson. Similarly, top doctors and therapists will keep in tune with current research and medicine to ensure their prescribed treatments are the best they can be.
Because the greats are in love with what they do, practice no longer feels like work. They are simply dedicated to what drives them.
And what drives me? BILLY Footwear—and all that it stands for. We have set out to bring a shoe to market that works and appeals to the majority, yet can satisfy the needs of the minority. In other words, we have created shoes with adaptive characteristics without making an adaptive shoe in the traditional sense of the word. Yes our shoes can satisfy the adaptive market but we are not constrained by it. Our shoes are intended for everyone! And so is our motivational messaging.
We want to make a positive difference in this world. And taking words from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address completely out of context, we are "dedicated to the great task remaining before us." It is going to be a fun ride and we are ecstatic that you have chosen to come along with us.