Elliott could be considered successful by almost any measure. He had a wonderful family, a growing company, and the respect of peers and community leaders. He was also, at one time, a championship-caliber skeet shooter. As a result of his hours and hours of practice, his routine was practically robotic and flawless–whether in his pre-competition rituals or his laser-like focus during the heat of competition. Safety glasses set. The shells in his vest, at the ready. The grips on his shotgun precise. Everything in order, so that when the clay target was released, his reaction was lightning fast, automatic and decisive. The targets turned to dust in the blink of an eye. They never had a chance, nor did his opponents.
That was over 25 years ago, when he was in his prime. Since then, the demands and priorities of tending to his family and his business had all but eliminated his time for participation in this once-favorite sport, leaving only fond memories and dusty trophies.
Now, those memories were returning to him as he watched his oldest son, Caleb, now struggle to maintain his motivation and focus for HIS favorite sport of basketball. He had always loved the game and he was good enough to play on the better teams in grade school and middle school. But now, at the high school level, he was struggling just to stay on the junior varsity team. He wasn’t the tallest or the fastest, but his shooting ability was decent and even then, just barely. As a result, his self-image was bruised and he was disillusioned, demotivated and ready to quit.
Elliott knew that Caleb was better than he thought and believed, and that he had the potential to be great. So he decided to take action. He called up the local gun club and signed up for the next skeet tournament coming up. Next, he took his favorite shotgun out of the closet. He cleaned it and oiled it, and prepared the rest of the items he would need. On the day before the event, he surprised Caleb by telling him he had signed up for the event and wanted Caleb come along to help him. Caleb, being the typical teenager, was at first resistant and annoyed at having his plans dictated to him, especially for a Saturday and even more so at the last minute. But Elliott insisted and made it clear it was not up for discussion. Caleb got the hint and relented.
When they arrived at the event, the memories flooded back to Elliott—the smell of fresh gunpowder in the air; the crack of gunshots at the range as the entrants warmed up; the buzz of anticipation coursing through the crowd. All of it triggered the rituals and reactions and muscle memories that Elliott had burned into his brain years ago, and he became that Elliott again.
Caleb knew of his dad’s prior proficiency and dominance in this sport, but he had never actually witnessed it. Now, watching his dad prepare for competition, he began to see a side of his dad that he had only heard stories about. Caleb’s shock was complete when Elliott looked at him and said, “Caleb, I just want you to follow me and help me with whatever I ask whenever I ask, because I plan to win this event for you.”
Paul was incredulous! “Dad, what are you talking about?? I know you used to be good, but I’m 16 now and I’ve never been to a tournament like this with you! Have you even been in one since I was born?”
Elliott looked him straight in the eye and asked, “Caleb, do you believe I can break ONE clay?” Caleb answered, “Yeah, of course. Anyone could do THAT. But there are 200 targets, right? And at least 100 guys here, all trying to win.” Maintaining eye contact, Elliott replied, “Caleb, none of that matters. I am going to win—by breaking one clay at a time.”
A few minutes later, Elliott stepped to the line. He adjusted his glasses just so. He had his shells at the ready in the pockets of his vest. He positioned his grip on the gun to their precise spots. He raised his gun to his shoulder and yelled “CALL!” The clay shot out of the target house. Elliott reacted with lightning speed, automatic and decisive! The clay vaporized in a cloud of dust! 200 clays later, with a score of 198, Elliott was declared the winner of the tournament.
Afterwards, he handed his son the trophy. Caleb was amazed and ecstatic. His respect for his dad was at a new high. “Dad,” he exclaimed, “that was amazing! Can you teach me how to do that?” “Son,” replied Elliott, “You already know how. The power is in the one.” Caleb looked confused. He looked at his son and continued, “Caleb, do you believe you can make one basketball shot?” “Yes,” Caleb answered tentatively, as he began to realize the impact of the lesson he had just witnessed. Elliott continued, “Then you have the power to become the best basketball player in the school. This same power can be used in anything else you want to pursue in life. Everyone, including you, gets distracted and overwhelmed and discouraged by how daunting or big the task may appear. But the power is in the one. I believe in you and I will help you learn how to master it.”
And the same is true for us: the power is in the one.
- If you have ever applied for and obtained ONE job, then you can get a new one.
- If you have ever learned ONE skill, then you can learn another.
- If you have ever written ONE word or sentence, then you can write a book.
- If you have ever influenced ONE person to buy a product or service, or even a point of view, then you can build and grow a business.
Just remember: the power is in the one. And you have that power. Go for it!
For your advantage,
(This story is based on a personal story I heard from a business leader named E. Gibson)