The eye of the elite takes on different meanings. Some of us recognize it when we see it, many do not. The rare eye of the elite that few understand or possess. It is a gift. A gift that is developed and practiced over months and years. It is a quality that is in some of us, a part of who we are. One that we cannot get rid of, even to the best of our abilities. The question is, why should we even try?
The elite eye can carry a negative or positive connotation, depending on a person’s perspective. It is mostly viewed in a negative fashion today. We should not fall into the same belief pattern. The eye of the elite is a gift and only a rare few truly possess it. It is a unique quality and should be valued as such. We need to nurture it, develop it, and to allow it to be utilized and listened to. Thrusting it into the forefront of decision-making and leadership.
What is it?
The elite eye is the lens that a person views their world. This includes their work, interactions with others, how they evaluate different situations, and their response to adversity. It is how they view what they do and how they do it. The eye of the elite is how one evaluates their work and the detail of execution.
Any person can possess the eye of the elite. It can be a well-known leader, the coach of a sports team, a parent, or a friend that we love. It is not limited to a popular leader or the coach of a famous sports team. It does not matter what role they have, but that they view people and situations through a similar lens. They view them with an elite eye.
Along with evaluating themselves, the elite eye is how someone evaluates the work and actions of those around them. The elite eye of a coach is how the coach evaluates their players and assistant coaches. The elite eye of a parent is how one evaluates the actions of their children and guides them forward by correcting their poor decisions and praising their good ones. The eye of a leader is how they assess unique situations, think through them, and act on their decisions.
Why do the elite need it?
We should begin by defining the elite. Elite is not subject to a particular job, sport, or are of the world. The elite eye is a mindset and a way of living, a way of evaluating one’s work and world. Think of the truly elite football coaches, like Nick Saban and Bill Walsh. The leaders like Winston Churchill and George Washington. Think of your parents or adult figures in your life that have impacted you. Think of your friends in school who, even though you might not talk to anymore, impacted your life at the time and probably still do. Elite is a mindset and a trait, not a job or a title.
Need is a strong word. You will not find one truly elite person that does not possess the elite eye. You are sure to find many influential people who are great at what they do and do not possess the eye of the elite. They are not truly elite. The trait is reserved for the select few, the truly elite and influential. There are not many football coaches like Nick Saban, few leaders like George Washington, and no parent who can guide and you love you like the one only you know.
The elite eye is a compass for the truly elite. It is how they direct their thoughts and actions under all circumstances. This compass is what they use to guide themselves on a daily basis. It helps them determine what they want and how to get there. These people always seem to have a clear vision of where they want to go and where they want their organization or team to go. They cannot go far without it.
Speaking with those who possess the elite eye is unique. The way they operate is rare. Few possess it, but you know when you are in the presence of someone who does. They function in a way that is almost robotic, automatic in a sense. Every obstacle they face and situation they deal with is handled with thought and consideration. They keep the big picture in mind and consider how different situations impact the goal. They approach decisions with a clear mind. They plan out their days and their work meticulously to make sure that what they are asking of themselves and of others will drive the mission forward.
The eye of the elite is instantly respected. You know it when you see it and you can feel it when you are around an elite individual. Many claim to be elite, but few truly are. A small number of people operate in such a way that they are constantly thinking about what can be better. Few consider possibilities, think through scenarios, and constantly try to improve their situations and the situations of those around them. They are always searching for ways to improve and for what can benefit them and their people.
What are the benefits of the elite eye?
It can be difficult to evaluate yourself. It is easy to lie and tell yourself that you have the right intentions, that you are acting in a positive way towards others. When someone has an elite eye, they are better able to evaluate themselves. Being able to evaluate yourself makes you a more effective person, and it allows you to be a better leader. The eye of the elite has a vision, and it is used as reference when reflecting on their own actions and routines. This allows the person to constantly evaluate what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where their actions are taking them.
The elite eye allows you to better evaluate and guide others. A strong sense of direction makes it simpler to assess others and keep them on track. While it is necessary to keep others on track, it is also important that the vision is communicated well in the beginning. Evaluating the performance of a team or organization is difficult to do without a clear view of the future. The elite possess the ability to communicate clearly and to encourage others to stay on track.
It will not be possible for a team to accomplish what it needs to if the leader does not evaluate effectively. They must be able to evaluate different situations and people. Without the ability to view things through the elite eye and evaluate effectively, they never have a chance. This can be any team, organization, family, or group of friends. A person or group needs to possess at least one elite eye to keep them progressing and adapting.
Progression, or the process of developing and moving towards a more advanced state, is the key variable that separates people of influence. The elite eye is progressive in nature, constantly searching for ways to grow and improve. Being able to effectively evaluate themselves, other people, and situations allows for improvement and growth. Personal and group improvement is important in progression. If the individual is not improving, the group will not progress. Keeping people focused on the vision helps keep the group progressing towards it. The elite start with themselves. They look in the mirror, and then they look at others.
Are there any drawbacks?
The eye of the elite can come off harsh or critical at times. When someone is focused on growth and minute details, it is likely that they will be portrayed negatively by outsiders. It is easy to judge a coach when you see him or her have a stern conversation with a player. It makes sense to criticize a leader when you see them make a decision and it fails. One truth we know is that the easy way is often the correct way. The easy path leads to worse outcomes than the difficult path. So, our assumptions or distant opinions might mean nothing.
Many of the most loved coaches and leaders are those who come off harsh. Those that are focused on improvement and that will not let anything stand in their way. They are undeniable in their pursuit of excellence. It is beneficial to learn something from this. Many people love the leaders that demanded the best from them. That made them better than they ever believed they could be.
A workaholic is a high-energy person who seeks to dominate and control. They always seem to do more than required (Larranaga, 1970). If you have the eye of the elite, you might be a workaholic. When someone is constantly trying to improve themselves or their people, they stop at nothing. Now this definitely poses a problem, but what are the alternatives? To sit by and let things happen? To let sub-par performance and education simply slide by? We need to consider the alternatives when we make such general statements like “he is a workaholic,” or “she just cannot relax.” Oftentimes, the alternative is not better. Consider the alternative. Think what needs to be done. Decide what it will take to get there and let nothing stand in your way.
As with all things, there is a balance that needs to be met. You cannot work at something all the time and expect to achieve great results. You cannot grip something too tightly or you will never realize it. You also cannot neglect something and expect it to come to life. If you never think about it or work at it, you will not have it. So, it is a balance. A medium grip on what you want. The ability to focus for periods of time with some time where you think about something else. Focus on the goal, and then give your work time to be realized.
Can you do the work without the elite eye?
You can do work without it, but you will never get to where you envision you can. You will always come up short. Even by the smallest margin. You will fail to get there. Either you will stop voluntarily, or someone will be better than you. They will beat you in the end. You might win the battle, but they will win the war. Success is about the long-haul, and the elite eye is what leads to ultimate success.
Becoming truly elite requires special tools. One of them being the elite eye. To acquire dominating success in leadership, coaching, or parenting, one must view situations and people through an elite lens. A lens that few others possess. One that is focused on growth and maximizing potential. One that is looking for the next right thing to do and never stops in pursuit of excellence. You might be thinking that this sounds exhausting. If you are, you are right. It is exhausting. That is precisely why so few have it and fewer can maintain it.
The elite eye is not for everyone, and that is okay. We know that the elite eye is exhausting, so many give up. They do not want a life that will require this degree of focus and persistence. The will to exhaust all options in pursuit of their ultimate goal. Many just do not have it in them. They have not had the chance to experience it, or to be around the mentors that instilled this line of thinking. Oftentimes, the elite eye is taught early on and passed on to a coach or a child.
Think of the coaching world today. When a head football coach either leaves for a new job or is relieved from his duties, what is the first thing the university does? They try to hire a highly successful coach, or they try to hire one of their assistants. Year after year this happens. The more you pay attention, the more you can guess what will happen next. Why do they do this? They are hoping that they hire someone with a similar makeup as the head coach, the one with the elite eye. If they cannot have the leader, they hope to get an identical copy. They are hoping to hire someone with an elite eye that has been passed on from a mentor to an assistant. But nothing is like the original. This often does not work in their favor.
The eye of the elite is a lens that can be found on any person. Many of us know the unique leaders, coaches, parents, and friends that seem to operate differently. We might not know them personally, but these people think differently. We have defined what the eye of the elite is, how they operate, and why it is unique. This is a concept that is not talked about, but one that is necessary if you want to be elite.
Larranaga, R. D. (1970). Calling it a day: daily meditations for workaholics. HarperCollins.
Peterson, J. B. (2014). Essay writing guide.