“You can’t win alone, but you can practice alone.”

You may or may not follow Football (the real name, but we call it “Soccer”), but the picture above is of Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player alive and – many believe – the best to ever play the game. When Leo was a little boy, he was smaller than most kids and youth his age. But he was fast. Very fast. And he had a natural talent with the ball at his feet. He couldn’t play as physically as the bigger kids, but he did learn how to use his diminutive size to his advantage.

He has built up some impressive stats:

  • By the age of 21, Messi had received a FIFA World Player of the Year nomination. The following year, in 2009, he won it.
  • He has won FIFA World Player of the Year the last four years in a row.
  • He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
  • At the age of 24, Messi became Barcelona’s (his club team) all-time top scorer in all official club competitions.
  • At age 25, Messi became the youngest player to score 200 goals in the world’s toughest league – La Liga.
  • Messi has won five La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups.
  • In 2012, Messi made Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match.
  • He also matched José Altafini’s record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season.
  • Messi became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns.
  • He set the European record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals.
  • In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals.
  • On 16 February 2013, Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal.
  • On 30 March 2013, Messi scored in 19 consecutive La Liga games, becoming the first footballer in history to net in consecutive matches against every team in the league.

But what I find most fascinating about Leo is his reported work ethic. The worlds’ best athletes often work hard – but generally don’t have to work as hard as those without their legendary talent. Here’s a guy who has arguably the most talent and he’s still working harder than almost any other athlete. That list of stats above is directly proportional to his work ethic and the level of commitment he inspires for his teams (both club and national).

A scant few of us have the chance to be world-class at something. Yet I firmly believe that we are unique creations, each with a destiny for the greatness of God’s plan for our lives. While work ethic is important, what is speaks of is a diligence for never-ending improvement – even if we’re already very, very good at something.

QUESTION: What kind of work ethic do you apply to your spiritual walk and in your relationships?


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