Today I’m excited to begin a new journey.
I’ve always wanted to know how the best of humanity do it. How do they reach their potential, and then push past it? How do they break their own records, discover new breakthroughs, and do something never done before?
If you’ve looked at my reading list, you know that I value learning about the lessons and strategies great teams employ to reach excellence. This interest spawned from athletics, but expanded to special forces, astronauts, and scientists.
What made the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots, and Alabama Football so dominant? How do Navy SEAL teams operate so successfully? How did NASA get humans to the moon? These organizations, and the people in them, exude excellence. Was it the systems and structures, or was it the people?
Repeatedly, it was the people. The organizations themselves fostered greatness, but the individuals each stood out. NASA got man on the moon because everyone involved was world class. The spacesuits were hand sewn by the “sew sisters.” Elite seamstresses who had previously worked at a bra manufacturer. These renowned organizations relied upon exceptional people. So it made sense to look at their stories.
Every individual has their own path, but the commonalities surprised me. After reading, listening, and watching these people, you can see a shared language, a common toolset, and nearly identical mindsets.
No one is identical, but these performers become fluent in the same language, and figure out which tools match their strengths and personalities. They fit the proverbial puzzle pieces together until they create a workshop custom built for themselves. They create their Version 2.0 (v2).
Others do this to a degree; they identify their strengths and lean on them. The best don’t stop though. They build a v2, test it out, and immediately work on v3. Every week they tinker. Each month they modify. Every year they version up.
Sometimes tinkering is done in days or hours. Sometimes they version up multiple times a year. But the constant is that it’s ongoing. On the outside most people can’t tell this process is happening, but they do. They even see it happen in their peers and competitors. Hell, they see it everywhere, because they’re constantly evaluating others to see what skills they can copy, what techniques to try, what mantras to mobilize.
They’re constantly building. Because they know once they stop, vN slows down, and loses its edge. Their edge fuels them. They’re competitors through and through. Some get in their competitor’s face and taunt, and some work tacitly instead, waiting for opportunity.
And they all seize opportunity. As soon as it’s presented they move in like a pride of lions. This is expected. They spend much of their time preparing for it. By the time they catch the hint of a scent, they know what to do. It’s how they live.
These people are human, but they earn every letter of the designation. They absorb information streams, feed their bodies with calibrated movement, and become the very people they envision years prior. They’re only limited by time and ideas.
Aside from the time and place of birth, we’re essentially the same as these people. We’re as gifted as Leonardo da Vinci, as bold as Isaac Newton, as fearless as Neil Armstrong, and as competitive as Kobe Bryant. We are 99.9% genetically identical to Isaac Newton. So were da Vinci and Bryant.
The pursuit of success demands talent. Bryant (as far as we know) wasn’t gifted with the same artistic ability as da Vinci, but his competitiveness propelled him forward. Without talent there are no footholds to help you begin your climb. Each of them leveraged themselves: starting with a strength, then amplifying it. They found their path and charted ahead. They succeed because of their unique strengths, not in spite of their weaknesses. They each shattered they’re own limits. Why can’t we?
It’s a competitive world. Globalization commoditized innate talent. There’s a reason Google is so big while individual information is so small. You can’t settle with the skills you have, you’ll just lose. The best way to compete is to follow their playbook. Leverage your strengths. Sharpen your mind. Iterate to accelerate. They make 1 + 1 = 3. They’re just like us, yet so far ahead. The only difference is they keep charging through their limits. They ascend beyond their potential.
These are Ascenders. And we’re on a journey to become one too.