#1651 The Making of a Champion

“I Know Who WON’T Be a Champion!”

In our last +1, we talked about a Big Idea from my chat with Lanny Bassham.

As we discussed, the best performers aren’t TRYING to win when they’re performing. They TRUST they will win if they focus on executing.

I repeat: That’s a Big Idea.

And, I repeat: The moment you focus on closing the gap and living with Areté, you ARE winning the ultimate game of life. Do that often enough for long enough and trust that you’ll win all the other games you’re playing.


In my Heroic Chats with Masters, I like to explore wisdom from some of my favorite teachers, but I ALSO like to learn more about their Heroic origin stories.

There’s often at least as much wisdom to be gleaned from their stories and how they crafted a life of meaning and purpose as there is in the actual Big Ideas they share.

As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it in Creativity: “Indeed, it could be said that the most obvious achievement of these people is that they created their own lives. And how they achieved that is something worth knowing, because it can be applied to all our lives.”


I asked Lanny to tell us a little bit about himself and his life.

I knew the basic story arc of his childhood but hearing him share it was amazing.

It goes something like this…

Once upon a time, a little boy named Lanny couldn’t play ANY sport well.

He was so inept at all the sports he tried that, to put it in perspective, he was the alternate right-fielder for his Little League Baseball team. And, if you know anything about baseball, you know that says a lot. 😲


Little Lanny is in sixth grade.

One day, his teacher is talking about the Olympics.

She says to the class: “When you all grow up, one of you in this class might be an Olympic champion!!”

To which the boy sitting next to Lanny says: “Well, I don’t know who in this class might become an Olympic champion but I do know one kid who DEFINITELY WON’T become an Olympic champion… LANNY!”


Little Lanny slumps in his chair and goes home and tells his mom and dad.

His World War II war hero dad tells him to give it some time and to keep trying different things while his mom brings him to the library where Lanny checks out all the books he can to learn more about the Olympics.

Not too long after that, Lanny discovers rifle shooting—the perfect sport for a guy not-so-great at all the other sports.

He and his dad start training together.

Not too long after that he gets so good he’s the national junior champion.

Fast-forward another few decades (featuring relentless training) and Lanny is an Olympic champion.

I absolutely love that story.

Let’s keep that story in mind for ourselves and for our kids…


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