Tangibles are things we can touch or see. In sport we put a great deal of emphasis on the tangibles. How fast are you going, how many watts are you pushing, how far did you go? We measure a persons performance with tangible things and we certainly like to predict performances based on solid, definitive, tangible evidence that supports how well someone should do. Tangibles are important.
Intangibles are things that cannot be easily measured. Intangibles are things that cannot be seen or touched or represented with a data point. Intangibles are the reason why some people look unimpressive on paper but exceed expectations at the finish line. Or why some people look great on paper but can’t seem to get the job done when it counts. How do you measure guts, courage, heart, tenacity and mental fortitude? There is no handheld device or watch that gives a score on the tenacity scale.
The intangibles are arguably as important if not more so than the tangibles. The intangibles are what make the impossible possible. The intangibles are responsible for some of the greatest human feats ever accomplished. Feats that on paper looked insurmountable yet somehow were attained through sheer will and determination.
Why do we spend so much time focusing on the tangibles and so little time focusing on the intangibles? The answer is simple: It’s hard to put time and energy into something that you can’t see and can’t measure. The intangibles are not concrete enough for most people.
If you want to see how good you really can be it’s time to start investing time and energy into the intangibles. Everyone’s intangibles are different. Some people are tough, some are gutsy, some are calm under pressure, some can create an upward spiral of positive energy so fierce they literally shit rainbows, some have a keen sense of how a race is unfolding and when to attack and when to be smart, some know how to create tension in the right places when learning a new skill and some just hate losing so much they will go to great physical and mental lengths to avoid it.
Who are you? What are your intangibles? What, at your core, will drive you and motivate you to do something over and above what it says you can do on paper?
We all have intangible strengths but many of us either don’t realize it or don’t put any real stock in their value. If you want to truly get the most out of yourself you need to figure out what your intangible strengths are and feed them every single day. Feed them by reminding yourself constantly that they exist. Feed them so much that they mushroom into a ball of internal energy that you can use as fuel when you need to. Feed them so much they become a self fulfilling prophecy.
If you consider yourself tough then feed that idea every day in training. Feed it so much that when it comes time to be tough there is quite literally no other option for you other than to be tough. If you are an upward spiral person then feed that positive energy daily so when things get ugly you have no choice but to keep being positive. If you are calm under pressure then feed that idea every single day so when the pressure really is on you will know no other way than to be calm under pressure.
Tangibles may define you on paper but the intangibles will rewrite what the tangibles told you were possible.