This is me 10 years ago. I'm warming up to play the Norwegian cup final, more motivated than ever. Have you ever loved a sport so much that it's what you want to do all day, every day? This was how I thought about volleyball. I didn't mind practicing five hours a day, as long as I could experience moments like these.
There are several important variables that make up an athlete. I was a decent player. I had the love for the sport, but never realized how much work was necessary to become great. I just liked going to training, and I'm wired in such a way that; when I play, I play with everything I have. "Max" was my nickname. I never stopped, never gave up.
Being at the top of your field requires a lot of hard work and dedication. It doesn't matter what you do, people are competing to be the best at all things, no exceptions. And when people are competing for the prize, the person that sacrifices the most usually wins.
Malcolm Gladwell is an advocate for this point of view. 10.000 hours is what it takes to master something. But it's not just about doing what you like for a certain amount of time. It's also about doing the right thing at a given moment to improve. I have never really counted how many hours I have put into volleyball, but if I should guess then it would be close to or more than 10.000 hours. I never got great, and I am certain that there are two main reasons for this.
1. I never realized how much work and what type of work was needed at a given time.
2. I was never motivated enough to actually give up other aspects of my life that didn't make be a better volleyball player.
Now, one question I could ask myself is: Did I have the talent to become great in the first place? Or did I max out my potential at being decent? I believe that talent in itself is a good thing, but talent never surpasses the will to work for it. Life isn't like that. Talent can only get you so far. "He can be as good as he wants to be," is often said about young and talented athletes. Those who say this are usually older and have a certain understanding of the work needed. But the little kid usually doesn't, at least I didn't. I didn't become great, and I certainly never maxed out my potential.