The Crazy Word that Guarantees Success

At 7 feet tall, Kelly Olynyk simply stands out – and over everyone – in the crowd. But it’s not just his physical stature that separates him from the pack. As the starting center on the top ranked NCAA men’s basketball team from Gonzaga University, Olynyk is willing to do what most other people are not.

After two disappointing years with the Bulldogs, Olynyk did something relatively unheard of in college basketball. He decided to take a year off from all games and spent the entire season working on his skills and muscular development. Removing himself from competition gave him hours and hours of additional practice time, where he improved both his game and physical preparation. He turned himself from a boy into a man.

According to an interview in The Globe and Mail, Gonzaga’s assistant coach, Donny Daniels explained, “He sacrificed. That’s a crazy word nowadays. Very few people want to sacrifice. Kelly did.”

Daniels is right. In today’s world few are willing to make the required sacrifices that virtually guarantee success. We don’t want to sacrifice living in a larger home so that we can keep our mortgage payments under control. We don’t want to sacrifice getting a new car every three years in order to save money for wiser investments. We can’t imagine sacrificing the latest i-gadget that is on sale – we must have it now, no matter how much debt we accumulate. You can see how our inability to control our consumer desires and sacrifice creature comforts can get us into big trouble financially.

Likewise, when we take the easy road with our activity choices, we end up with pleasure in the short term but pain in the long run. We don’t want to sacrifice our morning 300-calorie coffee and donut habit, so we end up gaining weight. We don’t want to sacrifice missing an episode of the latest HBO mega-hit so we stay up late and sleep in. And we certainly don’t want to sacrifice fifteen minutes of sleep by getting up earlier in the morning when we could be working towards the more important goals in our life.

The unwillingness to make sacrifices in life slows, or even blocks our success. It practically guarantees failure.

But look at what a little sacrifice and hard work can do.

In high school, after a football injury to his non-shooting arm kept him off the basketball team all winter, Olynyk didn’t let this stop him. With his good arm, he dribbled, passed, and made 500 shots each day. He did this all on his own, alone. He persisted. The next season, even after he was back in the line-up and winning games, Olynyk would return to the court within hours after a tournament to continue working on his skills.

Today, after years working alone and sacrificing in the shadows, Kelly Olynyk is one of the best shooters in college men’s basketball- all because this young man was wise and willing enough to sacrifice.

You can’t have success without it.

Sacrifice used to mean something different. It was what we asked of young men on the battlefield, not the basketball court. In America alone, we asked the ultimate sacrifice of 405,399 men that did not return home after the war in Europe and the Pacific.

Sacrifice was once a sign of strength and nobility. In today’s politically correct world, asking someone to sacrifice anything is looked upon as unfair and unacceptable. You are labeled the bad guy for even suggesting that someone give something up in exchange for a purchase, experiences or learning a skill they desire.

How dare we ask someone else to make a sacrifice – even when it is for their own good.

Ironically, our decision to avoid sacrifice is making us less satisfied with life. According to a study called, “Does watching TV make us happy,” published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, “heavy TV viewers, and in particular those with significant opportunity cost of time, report lower life satisfaction. Long TV hours are also linked to higher material aspirations and anxiety.”

We avoid thinking and working because of the pain connected to each.

We unknowingly sacrifice – there’s that crazy word again – results and happiness in order to spare ourselves energy and pain. But if we would only choose the actions that require effort, simple, yet straightforward effort, it will bring us greater results and rewards – and even happiness – in life.

I’ll admit, I’d rather be checking sports scores or lying in my warm bed at 5:37 a.m. than sitting at my kitchen table and putting the final touches on this difficult-to-conclude article.

But that would kill my soul. Writing, no matter how painful it can be at times, is a near-spiritual experience. Nothing, no matter how acutely enjoyable, can compare to the joy of a finished product, an improved skill, a life touched, or a person changed.

The only way to achieve these long-term results is through short-term sacrifice.

What can we do then, when asking our children, our co-workers, our clients, and even ourselves to consider making a sacrifice?

How do we turn this crazy word back into the virtue it deserves to be?

The first step is to look at what we do as “self-sacrifice.”

This version gives us power and control.

We choose to do it because we see the benefit in doing it.

We choose to do it because it gives us power and control.

This is good.

As Harry Browne writes, “You must choose between the various alternatives in order to make the most of the time and energy we do have. We choose constantly in order to bring as much happiness as possible, while using up as little time and energy as possible.”

We must choose wisely. We must make the right sacrifices. This is one of the first steps to success.

Listen, success is simple when you accept how difficult it will be. Once you acknowledge that success requires self-sacrifice, only then will you be prepared to take the action that improvement requires you to take.

Ironically, Kelly Olynyk will be featured on television this weekend during the first round of the NCAA March Madness tournament. Millions of college kids and grown men (and women) across the country will sacrifice their productivity and progress to plunk down in front of the tube for the next three weekends.

Some spectators will take the tournament so seriously they will have spent dozens of hours watching games and making bets on the results. But this will not get them anywhere in life. Unless, of course, they learn something about sacrifice from Kelly Olynyk, and begin to apply that crazy word, that virtuous trait, the combination of skill development and discipline into their own lives.

When they do discover the virtue of sacrifice, only that will make their lives better and more meaningful.

Our ETR challenge to you is to make one sacrifice for the next 30 days that can bring you greater rewards and success. What will it be? Can you sacrifice 15 minutes of television for skill development, study, or even exercise?

What sacrifice will you make to achieve your goals?

[Ed. Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly and Turbulence Training. He is also the co-creator of the Early to Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest. Though this round of the Transformation Contest has closed it’s not too late to get access to all the helpful tools and advice that has helped many people make a positive change in their lives. Get started on your major life transformations today.]