The 2014 Brazilian World Cup is one of beauty, prestige and flamboyance – where the true modern footballing greats gather in gladiatorial combat in a quest to discover which country can rightfully claim to be the best on earth.
Andrea Pirlo is one of these greats; an Italian player who orchestrates the field of play like no other.
In effect, he is to the Italian national team what Tom Brady is to the Patriots. Everything goes through him. Like a chess grandmaster who permanently resides three moves ahead – he simply receives the ball and sets it off again. Pass, pass, pass; each one finding a team mate with the vision of a hawk and the composure of a man playing a child’s game.
Saturday June 14th – Italy are playing England at the Arena Amazônia in Manaus, deep in the Amazonian rainforest. A largely even game in terms of attacking intent, yet one statistic shone through like a beacon of excellence. This wasn’t really Italy versus England…
The man with the greatest man-beard in football made 108 passes during the 90 minute game, with a first half completion rate of 96%.
For you non-football fans out there – that’s fucking good.
As an example; two years earlier at Euro 2012, Pirlo also played England and completed more passes than the entire English midfield put together.
So, why is this man so dominant on the field of play? We’ll get back to Pirlo a little later. Firstly, let’s talk about Justin Bieber…
You are what you do the most
There is a reason why fish are capable of swimming in the darkest waters, why birds are able to soar into the heavens with more grace and poise than any plane in existence and why Justin Bieber is able to piss off more people than anyone thought possible.
It’s simply because that is what they spend most of their time doing. If you do something every single day then you cannot fail to become proficient at it. It’s just a rule, a fact. There are no alternatives. Let’s say you spend 8 hours a day playing the guitar; unless you are doing something disastrously wrong, it will be impossible for you to achieve mediocrity if you’re putting that much time and effort into practising.
Excellence is not for part timers.
Every single one of you reading this actually has experience in this area. You can all speak your native language better than any linguist, polyglot or immigrant to your country. Of course it’s possible to gain fluency with as little as 12 months practice but it’s almost impossible to truly sound like a native unless you’ve been living and experiencing this language every day from a young age.
Now think about what it is you really want to do with your life. When you’re at work bored out of your mind, what is it that you wish you were doing instead?
THAT is what you should be doing; every day.
Now I’m not saying you should immediately quit your job to join the circus and become the world’s greatest clown juggler. You have bills to pay, mouths to feed and people to take care of. I get that.
By the way; I am referring to a clown who juggles – not a person who juggles clowns. It’s hard enough finding a clown that doesn’t scare the shit out of you, let alone finding enough of the fucks who are light enough to throw up in the air in a circular motion. That’s just absurd.
Anyway – the brilliance is that you don’t have to make any drastic decisions to change your life.
Warning: Jamie is about to start another time based rant. He likes doing that.
He also likes talking in the third person.
I’m willing to bet you waste a lot of time watching TV or aimlessly browsing the internet.
Maybe you spend too much time reading blog posts involving clowns.
Thank you by the way; you’re awesome.
My point is that you could easily free up a few hours each day to work on your craft if you really wanted to. Maybe you could wake up an hour earlier in the morning and go to bed an hour later at night. That’s 2 hours right there.
Put down WhatsApp and only use the internet when you actually have to do something. That’s another 2 hours.
You’re up to 4 hours a day now, and counting days off, which you could easily add another 2 hours on top; you now have well over 30 hours of spare time during the week to do what you truly love.
How could you not become excellent?
The secret to mastering your craft
This is what success takes. It’s very easy to view those in lofty positions and think that they have something that most of us do not.
It’s called an insane work ethic and a refusal to accept their lot.
These people weren’t born with any superhuman powers or into circumstances that handed success on a plate. They found time in their schedule and they didn’t allow whatever pathetic excuses their brains tried to come up with to derail them from their destination.
They wanted it and they NEEDED to have it.
It has to become a compulsion. No change can be made without true intrinsic desire for success. Even if you haven’t found your true calling yet, don’t worry, you will; and when you do, you need to be prepared to accept the challenge.
Sitting on the throne of excellence
If there is one thing that history has taught us, it’s that all the important stuff happens while sitting on the toilet.
Elvis strained a little too hard and gave himself a heart attack. Hank Schrader casually learned of his brother in-laws meth related tomfoolery and Tywin Lannister… well, I won’t spoil anything for you…
But it’s the location in which Andrea Pirlo finally discovered the secret to a problem that remained elusive until this moment. As he states in his brilliant book ‘I think therefore I play’…
The best ideas come about in moments of total concentration … My own Eureka moment arrived when I was sat on the toilet. Hardly romantic, but there you go.
The search for Juninho’s secret had become an obsession for me, to the extent that it occupied my every waking thought. It was at the point of maximum exertion that the dam burst, in every sense of the term.
Pirlo was already one of the best free-kick takers in the world. As a child he would push the living room sofa up against the window to use as a wall for shooting practice with a sponge ball. Aiming for the little spot between the sofa and the window and nailing it 9 times out of 10. But this wasn’t enough. He wanted more.
This obsession for excellence found a new target. His name is Juninho pernambucano.
Widely regarded as the greatest free-kick taker in modern football, Pirlo dissected everything this Brazilian had to offer. Collecting every DVD he could find, studying every free kick he ever took frame by frame. Nothing was left to chance – Pirlo knew he was doing something different, but what? It plagued him throughout his career, and he only found the answer a few years ago.
The idea hit him on the toilet. It was just a thought – maybe a misfiring neuron; but enough to cause Pirlo’s face to light up like a kid at Christmas. He had been looking at it the wrong way. It wasn’t where he was striking the ball, but how. Instead of using the whole foot to make contact, Juninho used just three toes – genius.
The following morning, Pirlo made his way to the training ground and tested out his theory with amazing success. Every shot cleared the dummy wall and found its target.
This wasn’t luck. This was a prime example of someone achieving excellence forged through years of effort and determination. Even when he became one of the world’s great players, his standards never slipped. He wanted more. He didn’t just rest on his laurels as one of the best dead ball experts in the game – he wanted to match his hero and it was this relentless pursuit for an answer that unearthed his eventual three-toed discovery.
The only time is now
When was the last time that you pursued a goal with this intensity?
What is it that you want to achieve more than anything else?
It’s time to eliminate the excuses
Where there is a will, there is a way. Find that spare time and make it count. Those hours will add up and by the end of the week you will be surprised to learn how much time you have actually spent honing your skills. There are 168 hours in the week. There is no reason why you cannot find at least 30 hours in there to set you on your way to become what you have always wanted.
Excellence doesn’t reward the weak and the lazy.
Like I mentioned earlier – the one thing you spend most of your life dreaming about…
Why the fuck aren’t you doing it?
What is it that you spend all day thinking about? Please let me know in the comments!
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