One of the constants in competitive sports is hearing about wonder kids. The other constant is the fact that most of these wonder kids don’t make it. I’ve been reading excerpts from a book called “Next, Next Big Thing” that profiles 15 such football/soccer wonder kids and the stories in there are very poignant.
The wonder kids share powerful stories about their journey exposing various factors like injuries, a bad relationship with a coach, personal problems, timing, etc., that got in their way of becoming top flight footballers.
The stories reminded me of a chance conversation in London with a train ticket inspector who was an Academy player at Chelsea football club. He shared that most of the high potential kids stop playing because of injuries. The ones who emerge are either lucky to avoid them or have incredible mental strength to find a way back.
Similarly, reading each excerpt has been a profound reminder of both the importance of mental strength when the chips are down and the power of luck in shaping any success.
While we tend to have plenty of conversations about the former (“grit,” “perseverance,” etc.), we often neglect attributing our success to the latter. Perhaps we should… and perhaps we’d appreciate what’s good in our careers a lot more when we do.