The Long Road To Showtime

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When we watch any event performed by highly skilled individuals, we can sit back and thoroughly enjoy the mastery of their craft. We may sit in awe enjoying the excellence of live performers in Cirque Du Soleil; a top Broadway production; a gold metal Olympian; a David Copperfield extravaganza; or the finals of the 2006 Scripts National Spelling Bee. All of these performers have one thing in common: they traveled down a long, tough road of committed practice - to bring you the Showtime that you are enjoy immensely.

I believe we all have the ability to totally commit ourselves to become excellent in some skill set. The main ingredients that usually keeps us from achieving excellence are motivation, will, and support of others to help us achieve such lofty goals. This lesson regarding the long road to excellence was inspired by the awe I experienced, as I watched the finals of the 2006 Scripts National Spelling Bee on ABC High Definition TV in early June. It was broadcast in prime time for the first time in the history of the competition, which began in 1925, and was watched by millions of people around the world.

The winner of the contest this year was Katharine "Kerry" Close, a 13-year-old 8th-grader from Asbury Park, New Jersey. To bring some perspective to what this young lady achieved, you must know that this contest began with 10.5 million contestants participating in local spelling bees from all 50 states of the United States; English speaking European countries; Canada; New Zealand; Guam, Jamaica; Puerto Rico; U.S. Virgin Islands; The Bahamas; and American Samoa. From that extremely large pool of contestants only 13 finalists made it to the prime time broadcast. Throughout the broadcast, Kerry was confident and cool as she spelled words that most of us would have a difficult time even pronouncing properly.

However this win for Kerry was not a fluke that happened by chance. This was Kerry's last year of eligibility; she was one of only two contestants this year to be in her fifth year at the national competition. She finished seventh in 2005, having gotten a better ranking every year she's competed. This was one young lady on a mission, who traveled down a five year path to reach the pinnacle of her dreams.

I'm sure that many individual's who watch a final competition like this, might assume that one must be born with the proper brain matter to learn and retain the knowledge these young finalist have accumulated. However if you dig deeper into how these contestants made it to the finals, you will find that they were totally committed to their goal and devoted five to ten hours of practice a day to make their goal a reality. They probably also had parents or mentors that worked diligently, assisting them down the long road to Showtime.

Whether an individual reaches their pinnacle performance in a spelling bee that began with 10.5 million contestants; or reaches their pinnacle performance in an acclaimed Broadway Play, the formula to achieve excellence doesn't really change. It takes a huge investment of time and resources from individuals who truly believe in themselves; as well as the support of others who lend their assistance in some way, shape or form.

Another example of enjoying Showtime can be found in the former hit comedy series "Seinfeld." This show aired for 9 seasons and was not an instant hit. It got off to a shaky start and ended at the pinnacle of its popularity as an icon of TV Comedy. The effort and devotion that went on behind the scenes to produce 22 fresh and funny shows a year for nine years was absolutely incredible. Yet we probably all sat back and watched the finished product as though this was a natural group of funny people, who happened to be performing together on the same set.

A behind the scenes documentary that was produced about the Seinfeld years, displayed the absolute devotion of time and resources the writers, actors and staff had to invest into their craft – to produce a show that reached the magnitude of popularity that Seinfeld enjoyed. None of the participants were born with the talent to achieve their degree of excellence. Instead they worked and practiced as diligently as the Olympian Gold medalist; the Broadway star; or the spelling bee winner; to become excellent at of their craft.

There is so much to learn from those that achieve excellence. Sure, it's entertaining and exciting to watch them perform. However it can also be beneficial to learn from their example, of how they were able to achieve excellence in their craft. It can be exciting to learn about the long road they traveled, en-route to their Showtime performances. Like us, they all had their up and down days. They all fell down many times and got back up. But ultimately they stayed the course and completed their missions. Now that's what I call exciting!

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