How to rise to the occasion

On Monday night I watched the Philadelphia Phillies biggest free agency acquisition, Bryce Harper get soundly booed by his former team in his first game returning to his old stadium.

The setting was intense and pressure-packed and he struck out badly on his first two at-bats, but as Harper felt more comfortable, he dialed in and got three straight hits–including a very, very long home run.

I watched Harper rise to the occasion and match the intensity of the situation in which he found himself.

It was a reminder that we never really "rise" to the occasion, rather we fall back to the highest level of training and intensity we put ourselves through.

There is a saying I heard a Ukrainian military official say once "We bleed in our training so that we don't bleed on the battlefield."

In the tense moments when the chips are on the table, we don't rise to the occasion, we fall back onto our preparation.

So should we have delusions of grandeur that we don't need practice and we'll just magically rise to the occasion?

Or should we be diligent when nobody is looking and build the level of training and skill onto which we'll fall back when the pressure cranks up?

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
— Bruce Lee