I loved one example that Harsha quoted in his book that he coauthored with his wife Anita - 'The Winning Way'. It is about the kind of preparation that Sachin did (and he is a complete believer in preparation as I have heard) to play Warne in the 1999 series (excuse the approx timelines and a couple of factual glitches maybe, but I am writing from memory and am sacrificing accuracy for the gist of the story now). The first game, a side game was Australia versus Mumbai, the then Ranji champions. Sachin played Warne in that match. I am not sure but I think he got a double hundred in that game.
Now, noticing that Warne did not go and bowl around the wicket for a single delivery in that game against Mumbai Sachin realised that Warne was saving it up for the Chennai test as a surprise weapon. To prepare for this eventuality the Little Master went to Chennai four days in advance and practiced playing leg spinners who bowled round the wickets for long hours. He practiced all the angles he needed to against the wily leg spinner who was known to bowl the best batsmen around their legs and make them look like school cricketers. When Warne came on to bowl round the wicket to Sachin in the test, the first ball was dispatched over midwicket for a boundary.
Harsha points out that surely the world rose and clapped for the genius for being able to hit the best leg spinner, nay the best spinner, in the world with such audacity, but - he says, it comes from hard work and focussed and intelligent preparation. In that one story Harsha and Anita reveal what it takes to win. The passion, the preparation, the analysis of the opponent, the desire to be ready, to diligence to cover all angles and be mentally prepared, the persistence, the organised planning, the honing of a specialised skill - you can go on and on, but it has everything in that story. That one shot and all that happened later was all the result of that preparation. Excellence is a habit, is meticulous planning, is hard practice until the tuning sounds perfect. Excellence is a sound only you hear in your head.
Thanks Harsha and Anita for sharing a wonderful story!