Practice Isn’t Optional.

“You really can see what makes up a winner when you put them in a lose lose situation.” — Mike Germano

I really like Shaquille O’Neal. I’ve written about him before on the blog. I even created a site inspired by one of his quotes.

But I’ve been reading Phil Jackson’s book about the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers — the team that Jackson coached — and it sheds some interesting light onto Shaq’s behavior.

Here’s a section from part of the Lakers’ playoff run that season. Jackson had been critical of Shaq’s free throw shooting abilities. (That playoffs, he shot 109 of 254 from the line.) Here’s what Jackson had to say about one pre-game effort:

“The press made a big deal out of [Shaq’s] dedication, showing up at the arena today three hours before tip-off to work on his free throws. To me it was no big deal. That was exactly what Shaq, as a professional, should be doing.”

And… he’s absolutely right.

Where else but in sports do we hear about how hard people practice? We don’t praise the coders who spend weekends diving into the craft. We don’t compliment the writer who stays up late working on drafts that never get read.

Look: Great work only comes through hours and hours of practice. It’s not optional. And it’s not something that’s going to earn you a pat on the back.

It’s expected.

Show up early. Practice hard. Get at it.

Today’s a chance to get better.