Talent Is Like a Lemon—It’s Best When Squeezed

To achieve maximum potential, you've got to apply maximum pressure.


Why is it that the best team, the best person doesn’t always win?

It’s because winning or losing doesn’t come down to talent, brains, ability, experience, or skill. It comes down to all that multiplied by effort at a particular moment in time.

It’s one thing to have a full bottle of ketchup. It’s another thing to give the bottle of ketchup enough of a squeeze to get the ketchup out.

You’ve got to apply pressure to get performance out.
That’s why coaching is such a key – not yelling, bossing, bullying – but coaching. (Not that a coach doesn’t have to yell, bully and boss at times.)

You can get away with some of that for a while, but it doesn’t work long-term because motivations must come from within.

People have got to want to do it, now, but they need to be encouraged; they need to be reminded.

When you’re in the heat of battle, you lose perspective.
That’s especially true if you’re doing something that you’ve never done before.

  • You get tired.
  • You get exhausted.
  • You’re straining the limits.
  • You’re giving it everything you’ve got.
  • You’re not doing something that’s easy; you’re doing something really big.

Anything worthwhile is going to take a big effort.
Consider farming, for instance. At harvest time, you have got to be ready to go. The crop is out there, and the rain is coming. You’ve been investing time and money for months and now it’s go time – time to “make hay”, or lose all that effort and expense. Plus, you won’t get another chance until next year. Winter’s coming, and it will be months before you can start the cycle over again. In the meantime, you’ll be broke.

You’ve got to get that crop in the barn.
It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, and you have the sniffles, or you’re this, or that, or just not in the mood. It doesn’t matter if the planets are lined up correctly in the sky for people with your birth date to be at their peak. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a spat with your spouse. What matters is that right now, you’ve got to get that crop in. That’s what matters – right now. You’ve got to boogie, because months and months of effort and tons of money in seed and fertilizer are going to be down the drain if you don’t get it done right now. Harvest time for farmers is winning time…the time to make it happen.

That’s how winning works, performing under pressure.
It comes down to performance. Winning comes when you activate all that is in you – knowledge, skill, ability, talent – and squeeze it out. Put it on display at the given moment you need to get the job done. What ever is necessary. Right then, no excuses.

That’s why you hear phrases like it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

We’ve all seen little terriers, little Chihuahua-type dogs going berserk, barking and chasing dogs that were five or ten times bigger than them just simply because they had so much more force, more fury, that in spite of their tiny size, their wild, frantic, angry baking made them intimidating – even scary.

Watch Seattle Coach Pete Carroll on the sidelines.
I noticed him last week on the sidelines. The camera was on him. He’s walking up and down and he’s encouraging and he’s pumping his guys up. Now some of his coaches, people on his coaching staff were just, kind of standing there, watching the game. Pete walks over and, kind of under his breath, but they picked it up in the microphone, he said, “Hey listen. You guys can’t stand here. You can’t just be looking at the game. You gotta be over there firing your guys up”.

There’s a linebacker coach. There’s a receiver coach. There’s a defensive line coach. There’s a linebacker coach. All kinds of coaches and every coach has his group that he’s responsible for.

What Pete said to them was “You gotta get some energy here”.

He said, “Go fire up your kids. If they see you just standing here, they’re gonna fade. They’re gonna get on the bench and relax and kinda doze out, zone out, forget about where they are”.

He said, “You gotta go over there and crank them up, keep them excited, keep them in the game; pump them up. Point out what they need to be doing; stir them up”.

So, all of a sudden these coaches that had just been standing around like statues, on the sideline watching the game, got busy and started to stir things up.

Pete Carroll was coaching his coaches.
It was game time. He knew they needed to be coached up immediately. All the coaches needed to be coaching when the game was going on. They didn’t need to be paused, relaxing, on the sidelines watching the game. They needed to be energized and working – and that’s the way it is with us.

We don’t need passive leaders, we need leaders to LEAD.
This means you:

  • If you’re in a leadership position.
  • If you have a family,
  • If you’re a school teacher.
  • If you’re in business.
  • If you have one or two people.
  • If you have 200,000 people.

When it comes performance time – when it comes time to make things happen, you’ve got to coach them up. You can’t take it for granted.

  • You must coach your coaches.
  • You must make sure the energy level’s there.
  • You must make sure people are moving around.
  • You must make sure they’re excited.
  • You must make sure they know what they need to do.
  • You must make sure they do it.
  • They must get their intensity up.

Leaders have to get their team’s blood pumping.
When you’re in competition, your heart pumps at a different rate. When you’re sleeping, watching TV, or just walking around, your heart beats at a different rate than when you’re out there running a 100-yard dash. You must get those electrons or blood cells circulating through the brain, firing them up, getting yourself ready to go and keep them that way while the game’s going on.

If that intensity isn’t there, the blood won’t be pumping, and you’ll get beat by someone else who’s wound up and giving it everything they’ve got – like that small, barking, attack dog scaring off a big Labrador.

Talent isn’t enough.
It doesn’t come down to talent. It comes down to what you do with your talent. That’s one of the biggest keys to success in life. That’s why I think on the bottom of every certificate, every diploma from kindergarten on up should be printed the words:

It’s not what you know; it’s what you do with what you know.
Now that you have your education, what are you going to do about it? Now that you have yourself in shape, you have your football uniform on and it’s game time, what are you going to do about it? Now that you’re at bat, it’s the ball game, bases loaded, you’ve got all the ability, all the training, all the experience, what will you do now that the game’s on the line? We know you have the ability, so now what are you going to do with it?

Are you going make it happen or not?
That’s why it comes down to three kinds of people in the world:

  • Those that watch things happen
  • Those that are wondering what happened
  • Those that make things happen.

The people, the parents, the coaches, the leaders that make things happen don’t just go through the motions and do the normal things. They do a little bit more.

They make it happen.
They put whatever pressure required to get it out – they squeeze whatever experience, talent, energy they have to get out, enough of that out so that they can get the job done.

They squeeze themselves, they squeeze their team so they get the most out of what they have because performance wins – not potential.


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