“That’s the one thing you can control, how hard you work in the gym in the summer because it prepares you to get through an 82-game schedule. It gets harder and harder every year. That’s a big part of my progression as a player.” – Steph Curry
This is our last article looking at what makes Steph Curry such a great player and great person. Being great at your job is one thing. When someone is exceptional at their job while excelling as a husband, father, and Christian, they are worth studying and modeling. Success leaves clues.
We’ve already touched on Steph’s faith and how his faith in God empowers his vision for greatness on and off the court. We talked about how Steph’s core values keep him grounded in his faith and the importance of his family.
Steph’s work ethic is unreal. Google his name and you’ll find some amazing videos of Steph putting in the work required to master his craft.
Alan Stein, an admired strength and conditioning coach, had the privilege of working with Steph before anyone knew his name. Stein attended a Kobe Bryant Skills Academy that Steph was at and had this to say about him.
“The least recognized player there was Stephen Curry, but I knew immediately that he was the most impressive and that thinking long term, he was going to be a future NBA superstar, and here’s how I knew that: it was all because of his work habits.
Thirty minutes before every single workout, most players were still in their flip flops and would have on their headphones and Stephen Curry had already started doing some form of shooting. He’d already started taking game shots from game spots in game situations. By the time the workout officially started, he’d made 100-150 shots, almost in a full sweat.
And the most impressive thing he did, was as soon as every workout was over, he would not leave the court until he swished five free throws in a row. Do you know how hard that is? But that’s the level of excellence he holds himself to. The moral of the story is that success is not an accident, success is a choice. Stephen Curry is one of the best shooters on the planet today because he has made the choice to create great habits.”
We’d all love to be more disciplined. We want the success that Steph has on and off the court, but how does he do it? This is where multiple habits come together to produce success. It’s like Ikea in furniture or Southwest in the airline business. It’s not one or two things they do right that makes them successful; it is a lot of daily disciplines, systems, and processes that overlap to create a web of activities that produce great outcomes.
In reading about Steph, I found two things that drive his work ethic that we can use to drive ours – Focus and Knowledge.
Focus – “The odds are you can accomplish anything, but not everything.” This one kills me. I love to say yes and to make other people happy. People do not like to hear you saying no. But, when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.
Success in the right things requires saying no to practically everything else. Somebody asked Steph how his dad did such a great job raising his kids while living the life of a pro basketball player. Steph replied that his dad’s life consisted of basketball and family. Steph’s dad taught him the power of focus.
We can work our tails off at too many things and be great at none of them. Instead, we must choose the vital few things that will have an eternal impact and focus our energies there.
Knowledge – Steph’s dad was a great professional basketball player. Steph spent time with his dad and his father’s friends who were professional players. This time gave Steph insights into the discipline and work ethic required to play on basketball’s biggest stage.
We are all viewing everyone’s highlight reels. We see the outcomes and the benefits, but nobody ever writes about the work – the late nights, the weekends, the sacrifices it took to make our heroes great. Steph got to see what it took to be great and he decided to pay the price.
What I love about Steph as an example is that he didn’t have to sacrifice his faith or his family to be great at basketball. He sacrificed other, less important things.
That means that we too can be great at our professions and in our homes. But that requires focus.
We can be great at what matters most to us if we’ll follow this simple four-step model:
1 – Create a very short list of things that matter most to us.
2 – Define the win in those critical few areas.
3 – Get the knowledge required to be successful. Plenty have gone before us and left clues. Those clues are found in books, interviews, or from picking up the phone and calling someone.
4 – Lastly, we must say no to everything else and do the work.
What are you committed to being excellent at?
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Curt Fowler is President of Fowler & Company and Director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey. He is dedicated to helping leaders build great organizations and better lives for themselves and the people they lead.
Curt is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker, and business advisor. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA, and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.