New Castle News

January 16, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: Are you a plodder? You’re on your way to success

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — What’s the old Woody Allen line?

The actor and director is credited with saying, “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

So true.

As a nation, we tend to gravitate toward “the freaks.” And I say that in the most respectful way possible.

You know, Ali, LeBron, Usain Bolt, Tiger, the 6-year-old who’s killin’ it on the dance floor.


But you wanna know something really freaky?

Those folks are the exception. That’s why they get all the magazine covers and the millions of hits on YouTube.

You and I are the rule.

And in most instances, we happen to rule, too.

We just don’t make a big splash.

“Maybe it wasn’t the talent the Lord gave me. Maybe it was the passion.”  — Wayne Gretzky


Moms love finishers at the dinner table.

Baseball managers love finishers on the mound, although they refer to them as “closers.”

Basketball coaches love players who can finish around the hoop.

Cross country coaches love runners who kick it into another gear near the finish line.

To finish takes endurance. It’s what character is made of.

To finish takes self-discipline, the key ingredient to developing character.

To finish takes you, all of you, to go all in.

But you can’t finish without showing up.

Every day.

In every way.

“Here’s a fact: I like dreaming more than doing. But here’s another fact: Dreams aren’t worth much without work.” — Michael S. Hyatt

Bryon Yawn calls you and me plodders.

At first glance, we might view that as a slap in the face.

But think about it.

Plodders show up.

Plodders finish.

Plodders win.

Two steps forward. A step back. Maybe a couple sideways. Then full steam ahead again.

Life is hard by the yard, but it’s a cinch by the inch.

We’re plodders.

In his book, “What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him,” Yawn explores the concept of plodding and suggests dads would be wise to teach it to their sons.

“As far as desirable qualities go, plodding isn’t as sexy as power or influence, but it’s more powerful and influential than either one. It’s at the core of many fulfilled lives and time-tested careers,” Yawn writes.

“Those known for finishing usually possess plodding as a trait. Deliberate. Dependable. ... To plod is to take a long view of life. Good things take time. They don’t come easily.”

Think of just about any great coach in sports today.

Saban, Popovich, Stevens, Belichick, Leyland, Hurdle.

Few were noted as players, but they still loved to play.

Most were fired from previous positions, but never quit.

All studied and toiled in relative obscurity until it was time to shine on their own.


We could do a lot worse.

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” — Proverbs 13:4

How much are they willing to suffer?

That’s how noted soccer coach John O’Sullivan responds when parents ask him if their children have what it takes to play at the next level.

“The will to suffer and endure not only separates average athletes from elite ones, but it separates talented elite athletes from their peers as well,” O’Sullivan says.

“An athlete’s willingness to suffer, his or her comfort with being uncomfortable, is often a strong determinant upon whether they reach their potential, or instead become another one of those ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ players.”

The more I watch and the more I study, the more I realize O’Sullivan is right. So is Woody Allen.

Showing up consistently matters. No matter how much it hurts sometimes.

As much as I wish it were true, there’s no magic pill.

Despite what we see on late-night television, there’s no such thing as “5-minute abs.” There’s no “secret recipe” to achieve excellence.

There’s you. There’s me. There’s small successes. And there are plenty of failures in-between.

Just keep showing up.

Just keep learning and growing, no matter how hard it is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Just keep plodding.

One step at a time.

One foot in front of the other.

Even when it seems like you can’t get any traction.

Believe it or not, it’s the fastest way to the top.

Maybe I’ll see you there someday.