Photo credit: JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this summer, I was watching a bit of the NHL (National Hockey League) entry draft on TV and one of the young hockey players drafted this year by the Florida Panthers team was a young man named Rocco Grimaldi.

Grimaldi actually made sports history as he became the shortest player at five feet, six inches tall to be selected in the NHL entry draft. This is really something given that professional hockey players these days are hovering at about six feet in height on average. But Grimaldi’s lack of height has certainly not stopped him from playing well enough in the minor leagues to get the attention of NHL scouts.

Grimaldi’s example echoes a very famous and profound quote by legendary football coach Vince Lombardi (from North American-style football, not soccer). This particular quote, which is on a motivational poster I have on my home gym wall, should be part of standard study in personal development.

The Famous Lombardi Quote

Here’s the actual quote for your reference:

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather is a lack of will.”

Coach Lombardi noticed throughout his years of coaching football that the champions are not always those who are the biggest and strongest players. We also see something similar in the business world, as those with the most education are not always the most successful either. In fact, the most successful people in many different fields are not always the most gifted in terms of size or knowledge. But what they do have is the will to succeed, which more than makes up for their lack of natural assets.

Examples Of Great Wills That Have Created Legacies

Wayne Gretzky

Another great example from sports is Wayne Gretzky, often acknowledged as the greatest hockey player ever. He was nowhere near the most imposing player on the ice in terms of size, but his intense will to excel in the game since early childhood enabled him to make up for his lack of bulk. The skills he developed — including his skating style — made him a very difficult player for the bigger guys on the ice to bodycheck. In fact, they often referred to him as a very ‘slippery’ skater with a unique way to dodge bigger players. Add on his incredible scoring abilities and it’s no wonder why he was called ‘The Great One’.

Bill Gates

One of the best examples from the world of business to demonstrate Coach Lombardi’s quote is Bill Gates. He dropped out of college to eventually start Microsoft. He didn’t have the most acquired knowledge but had enough computer skills plus his enormous will and foresight to change the tech world. He made up for his lack of business knowledge by recruiting people who did have expertise in other areas needed to build a successful company. The rest as they say, is history.

Terry Fox

After having a leg amputated due to cancer, Terry Fox was not exactly the most likely person to be a long distance runner. But because of his incredible will to raise awareness for cancer, his ‘Marathon of Hope’, which was a brave attempt to run across Canada, is now legendary. Terry Fox started his journey from the east coast and never made it across Canada. He got as far as northern Ontario when his cancer finally defeated him. However, his inspiration resulted in annual events worldwide that have raised millions of dollars for cancer research ever since.

Applying Lombardi’s Quote to Your Life

When looking at your own life and goals, don’t be disheartened if you are lacking in a few qualities such as strength or knowledge. Countless people like Wayne Gretzky, Bill Gates and Terry Fox have achieved great success, leaving lasting impressions in society despite having some shortcomings. Natural ability (and even acquired knowledge) can only take somebody so far. Without the additional willpower to do whatever it takes to become successful, these assets can’t be utilized to their potential. This is why many gifted or well-educated individuals still fall short of their goals.

You can apply Coach Lombardi’s wisdom by developing the will to work hard and be fully committed towards your goals. This will compensate for any perceived shortcomings that you may have. Strong willpower enables you to endure and persevere the rougher parts of your journey.

This is what Rocco Grimaldi did as he kept working on his hockey skills — even though he was probably told by many naysayers that he was too small to be a professional hockey player.

The will to succeed can make all the difference. Don’t suffer from a lack of it if you want to achieve success in what you do.

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