In most Olympic sports, the number of athletes that can actually compete for the gold is quite small. Most of them are competing for third place, at best. Or perhaps in realizing their own pecking order, they are simply trying to beat another runner, or wrestler, or archer that usually beats them by a mere step, or point, or inch. And this happens, where most of the action happens, in the middle of the pack.
Nobody ever hears about these athletes. Some of them deserve their anonymity. They had the skill but not the will to be on the top podium. They had talent for gold but settled for showing up.
However, at the Olympic level, the majority of the middle of the packers or even the back of the packers, are over achievers. Their sweat, toil and sacrifice equals or exceeds that of those on the podium.
Most of us relate to them much better than the gold medallist. We do not possess the elite skills, whether in athletics or in any other area of life. We are not the genius innovator. We were not at the right place at the right time. We were not born into privilege. We find ourselves competing in life somewhere in the middle of the pack. But we have come to realize that the race is every bit as interesting and competitive here in the middle than there, at the front.
I suppose you are somewhat of an athlete or you probably would not even have read this far. I plan on using sports metaphors throughout this book. Many of the things that I have to say are already a part of the culture that we live in. This is why we have clichés. They are truisms. Sure, sometimes they are trite. They can be used inappropriately or by overuse, can be rendered meaningless. But clichés are clichés for a reason. They pack an intuitive wisdom that embodies the common understanding of a people. They enable us to relate to one another and say a great deal with few words.
The wise man is not so much the one who creates but the one who imitates. This is encouraging for us middle of the packers. We do not have to be a genius, the innovator, the enormously naturally gifted. We can just recognize who is, take his good idea, embrace the truth of it and learn and apply wisdom. Through imitation of excellence and wisdom, we can achieve far more than we think we can. This is the essence of true success; doing more than you thought yourself capable.