I came across this article that discusses a but of greats (in sports and business), and I thought the last few paragraphs were very poignant:
For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That’s the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn’t be rare. Which leads to possibly the deepest question about greatness. While experts understand an enormous amount about the behavior that produces great performance, they understand very little about where that behavior comes from.
The authors of one study conclude, “We still do not know which factors encourage individuals to engage in deliberate practice.” Or as University of Michigan business school professor Noel Tichy puts it after 30 years of working with managers, “Some people are much more motivated than others, and that’s the existential question I cannot answer – why.”
Maybe we can’t expect most people to achieve greatness. It’s just too demanding. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn’t reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.
Well, first off, I’ve never understood how Brady does that – he’s special. The article is dead-on, but one thing to remember is that some of the cases sited had horrible home lives. In large part due to their obsession to win or compete, etc. Of course, as with all things, some people are better at obsessing in controlled bursts than others. Tiger Woods comes to mind. The key to it is finding that switch, and being able to actual turn it off.