Last week while watching the hard fought battle between the World’s top two ranked men’s tennis players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, in the finals of the US Open Tennis Championships, broadcaster Mary Carillo made mention of two characteristics on display during the match.

Will and Skill!

The comment brought me back to my baseball career, where over 20-years I saw those two traits on display every day. Unfortunately, most of the time I did not see them together in the same athlete.

In the lower minor leagues, players are fighting their way to make an impact at ever higher levels of competition, testing their mettle to raise their game.

Often I saw athletes with tremendous skill but without the will to take it to the next level. In others I saw tremendous will to work hard on developing the skills to get to that next level and for unknown reasons it never manifested for them.

At the level of the game I was at, only about 10 percent of the athletes ever make their ultimate destination of the Major Leagues. Ninety percent will be in a different career within five years or less.

The reason is they lack the ability to put that combination of will and skill together.

The same holds true in business.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and a naysayer but not everyone can become anything they desire, no matter how hard they work. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try we will never develop the skills to reach the level we desire.

On the other hand, sometimes the will to apply our skills as diligently and consistently as we need is lacking.

Exerting will at that level, interestingly, is actually a skill in and of itself.

It’s a work ethic we develop early in life, and if we miss that in our early development it’s hard to acquire as we get older.

There is also the cost benefit analysis that must be evaluated.

Do you want to exert your will to develop mastery and success in one area of your life to the detriment of all others?

There is no right or wrong answer, just things to take into consideration on our journey.

For me right now, my will is focused diligently and consistently on becoming the best professional speaker and presenter I can be.

Every time I’m in front of an audience I can feel myself getting better.

That’s both encouraging and motivating.

The small successes and improvements I notice in myself, combined with the positive feedback from audiences fuel the will to develop my skills.

Where can you apply this combination of will and skill to drive your next level of success?


Skip Weisman, The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert, works with small business owners to help them lead their employees from drama & defensiveness to ownership & initiative. During a 20-year career in professional baseball management, Skip served as CEO for five different franchises. That experience gave Skip tremendous insight and skill for build high-performing teams in the workplace. Skip’s new small business coaching program, based on leadership during the American Revolution, is called Revolutionary Leadership.