Tom Brady and LeBron James are two of the greatest athletes the world has ever known. Brady has won five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots while James has been to the NBA Finals eight consecutive times including 2016, when he guided the Cavs to their first title and ended Cleveland’s long championship drought.
One of the keys to the success of these athletes, both on the field of play and in their business endeavors, is the fact that they leave nothing to chance. There is an intentional purpose behind every workout, every meal and every action taken. It’s safe to assume that from the first day either of these men picked up a football or a basketball, Brady and James didn’t just want to be great. They knew they would be great.
They each crafted a plan to maximize their gifts and ensure that when the clock had run out for the last time on their respective playing careers, they would know they had done everything it took to be the best and have no regrets. That ability to be so intentional about pursuing excellence, to sacrifice and to set a standard that most people would never have the discipline to reach is what makes them so special.
Without that intentionality and strength of will to never settle for being ordinary, both Brady and James, despite their tremendous physical gifts, would almost certainly have fallen short.
“An unintentional life accepts everything and does nothing. An intentional life embraces only the things that will add to the mission of significance,” said New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell.
Being intentional is the first step in the difficult journey to achieving greatness. When you set thoughtful, clear-cut goals and develop a plan to reach those goals, you push aside the distractions and the obstacles that would otherwise slow you down.
Being intentional is not the same as having good intentions. When you set a New Year’s resolution to eat better and exercise more, you have good intentions. When you decide you want to be there for your business and your family for years to come and you create a plan for a healthier lifestyle that enables you to do that, that’s the start of leading an intentional life.
The challenge in today’s world, of course, is that there are so many distractions that can cause us to drift away from a purpose-driven life. I’m as guilty as anyone of failing to follow through on my good intentions. It’s much less work to just take what life gives you and hope that random chance will come out in your favor.
When we are willing to set goals and back those goals up with drive, motivation and determination, we give ourselves a chance to overcome those hurdles and maximize our gifts. It’s not enough to want to be great. We have to plan for it and just as we do with our business, we must execute against that plan. It’s the only way to win.
Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network.