Excellence Somewhere Else
Recruiting athletic talent for a Division II and III team is never easy. No matter the sport, the biggest, strongest, and fastest athletes have all been gobbled up by top-tier programs and schools.
Yet, some of the most remarkable records belong to teams and coaches who compete in second-tier programs. For the best coaches, finding the needle in the haystack is very possible. That’s because they look for two-sport athletes.
High school athletes who compete successfully in two different sports possess unusual talents. Despite average size or speed, the ability to excel at different perceptual motor skills suggests an athlete that has an X factor that natural talents can’t replicate.
These exceptionally talented athletes perform at a higher level than the large schools might expect them to. The idea of a two-sport athlete has a critical connection to how the best leaders select talent.
Creating excellence earlier in a career is a strong indicator of potential and learning. Achieving excellence requires competing successfully against a community standard.
Examples include: Playing an instrument in a band or orchestra, contesting at chess, math or debate team, playing a sport at a high level, obtaining a pilot’s license, traveling with a choral club, earning the highest rank in a civic organization. The list is expansive.
Candidates who have competed and excelled in something other than work and school often incorporate insights into their work that others can’t. They've learned how to compete and win. And also to lose. While learning to create excellence, they received coaching, feedback, good news, and bad news.
They know how to overcome setbacks and obstacles. They understand the value of process and discipline necessary to win. Excellence doesn’t come without a host of learnings that are invaluable to succeeding elsewhere in a career and life.
If a prospective colleague has never achieved excellence before joining your team, what makes you believe they can achieve excellence now? What have they been waiting for?
By asking for the accolades candidates have amassed throughout their lives, leaders quickly learn how to drill down and explore where and when excellence has already been achieved. Good leaders don’t use this as a litmus test, but rather as a stepping stone conversation that will further build confidence in a candidate.
The best leaders know excellence is not a skill. It is a way of learning and attitude often acquired earlier in life. As a yardstick of quality, having already achieved excellence is a powerful indicator of what people are capable of. Excellence is a dynamic teacher.
Is that candidate an athlete or just a player?