Every athlete is looking to improve their sports performance, to find an edge that will give them the leg up on their competition. There are many different ways an athlete will approach this, whether it is physical or through mental coaching, athletes always try to find something that will separate them from the rest.

Over time working with athletes and other high performers I have seen the same core issue come up time and time again, but for awhile had trouble fully identifying it or giving it a name, until a few years ago. Back in 2015 I read a book by Simon Sinek, called Start With Why, and in it he points to the very thing I could see but not fully identify as to one of the biggest issues athletes or any high performer deals with that ultimately becomes an obstacle and impacts their ability to perform up to potential.

When we are young we do something because we love it, we are passionate about it, and do it simply for the pleasure it gives us. We are not looking to win, to be popular, to make money, to win championships, we are engaging in the activity because we love it. We are tied to why we are doing something so strongly that all other things don’t matter as much. However, as time progresses our focus shifts to what we are doing, to our achievements and away from why we started doing it in the first place. If you think about what you are doing and why you are doing it on two parallel lines, at one point they run side by side, but with time the why seems to fade and go off in a separate direction being left behind. At that point our accomplishments become our primary reason for doing something, and as that happens, even with great achievements we feel less and less successful.

Making sure that we keep an eye on why we do something, and to allow our decisions and focus to be based off of that, a lot of the “pressures” that are felt start to fade away. This doesn’t mean we can’t be competitive or like to win, it simply means we enjoy it, but aren’t overly focused on it, and make it the only measuring stick for which we measure our success, happiness and performance.

Making sure what we are doing and why we are doing it stay parallel to one another, is one of those factors that will help you keep the edge over your competition. If you look at any successful athlete or business, they succeed because of this, and when the split happened, they started to underperform.

While this video by Simon Sinek doesn’t go over this specifically, it illustrates in terms of businesses why great companies are successful and have very loyal customers, due to a strong sense of why they are in business. This philosophy is also applicable to our own path and success, when applied to aspects of our life.