Show up, do the work, be consistant.
I like it.
Show up, do the work, be consistant.
I like it.
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It`s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it`s when you`ve had everything to do, and you`ve done it. - Margaret Thatcher
I'm not sure I would agree that there is no such thing as talent - but whether or not "genetic talent" exists, personally I think that "passion" is the biggest factor contributing to the difference between the greats and the not-so-greats in any field of endevour. Those at the top of the game would be obessively passionate. For them its not "showing up and doing the work", its their life.
aengus, this is certainly an interesting subject. tough to nail down though. over the years have found that genuine talent is rare, but it does exist. no, not rare. genuine talent seems rare because most never encounter a situation/sport/activity where they will realize they have a talent.
someone might actually be born with "the gift" to be a brilliant cyclist (like mr. armstrong), but most never do that type of riding, so how would they know? also, in certain activities, you can see the individuals that "just get it". they do the same thing as everyone else, yet they are just light years ahead.
still, through dedicate pursuit, it is possible for anyone to become "professional grade" at just about anything, if they put in the time.
To me it is more of consistent effort rather than talent.
I always like to use this example of a baby learning to walk. Initially he can't walk (obviously). He falls down many times. But with enough practice he WILL walk.
All of us went through this challenge and conquered it. If you stop learning to walk because you fall many times, then you won't learn to walk.
TACFIT Field Instructor
1. Deconstructing skills.
2. Perfect, slow practice.
3. Igniting a lifetime of passion.
These three things allowed me to defeat opponents that I had no genetic right defeating. Yes, there are genetic disadvantages that can be huge, even if there are genetic advantages which are only marginal.
Awesome. I love this topic. I wrote about it in a round-about way in my newsletter after having read 'Talent Is Overrated' by Geoff Colvin.
Pretty long. But here's my two cents.
The Better Issue
While the past month was extremely busy, it was also a very rewarding time for me. I received my black belt in Shorinji Kempo, officially opened up my new studio, and have achieved a level of fitness that I honestly believe to be my best yet. None of this could have happened without proper and diligent practice on my part, which leads us into this month's topic: Being Your Best (even if you aren't THE best).
Also last month I read an engrossing book, entitled, “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin, based upon an article written by K. Anders Ericsson. The PDF version of Ericsson’s article can be found here.
In the book by Geoff Colvin, he looks at what it takes to be the best in the world. His conclusion? He states that it has nothing to do with natural ability while it has everything to do with Deliberate Practice. Well, that, and also having a family member, usually a father, to push you, such as the fathers of Tiger Woods, Eli Manning, Serena and Venus Williams, and even Warren Buffet to name just a few.
If you look at all these performers, you will find that they were not 'born' with their talents. They all worked exceptionally hard, were pushed to excel, and finally achieved their success around or after the ten-year mark. (Mozart is another example, but be careful who you say this to. Die-hard Mozart fans will fight tooth and nail and say that he was a natural born genius.) An honest look at what makes a person a genius reveals that person's experience and deep understanding of their chosen field. That's why I also believe in the “Ten Year Rule”.
Being Your Best, Even if You Aren't THE Best
While some few people might be the top dog in the world in their chosen activity, many of the rest of us may be just another mutt in the pack. That doesn't mean that we can't rise up and let our howl be heard! We can take some of the tips from Colvin's book and apply them to our own personal practice with great success.
Colvin's five points for successful people are related to similar principles within CST. Let's take a look at the details of these five points and how they can be used immediately to our advantage in Living Lean and Living Well.
1) "Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance.”
Notice the word 'designed'. As I’ve stressed before, you must have a concrete goal and a specific plan of action in how to achieve that goal. This means you MUST have concrete goals for every single practice session that you perform. If in your practice sessions, you are simply going through the motions, you will never improve. Your program must be designed so that you are not simply practicing but improving each and every time.
An example outside of the exercise world would be if you wanted to perform well in a violin recital. For those of you who don't know, I started violin at a very young age and played until the end of my university days. Playing a piece of music well is more than just being able to play the score. You must also memorize your piece, be able to play under pressure, with an orchestra or at least piano accompaniment, and do this while wearing a nice outfit. You may have practiced each part of the arrangement, going back to the difficult sections and ironing them out to perfection at home. But if you have not tried doing that while wearing a tie, which slightly alters the way you hold your instrument, with a pianist whom you may never have met, in front of a crowd of a hundred people, with judges watching you, while... I think you get the picture.
You must design your practice for the way that you must perform while under stress making sure that you improve upon the previous day.
Looking at the world of CST, TACFIT® is "Deliberate practice designed specifically to improve performance". Hands down, this is the most intelligently designed program for the men and women who are on call to protect our streets, homes, cities, and countries. That doesn't mean that you need to be a fire fighter, police officer, or in the military in order to benefit from TACFIT®.
*On a side note. I'm into day 6 of my second time doing TACFIT® and it is absolutely amazing! This is one serious program for getting lean, packing on some muscle, and creating a seriously functional body.
2) "Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot.”
In order to judge whether or not you have improved you must have a system that can be repeatedly used.
Colvin brought up a very good point when he wrote the following:
"Two points distinguish deliberate practice from what most of us actually do. One is the choice of a properly demanding activity just beyond our current abilities. The other is the amount of repetition."
If we are always working inside our comfort zone – just going through the motions - we will always be stuck in the same place. But when we go just slightly past our current ability (comfort zone) and do this repeatedly, we up the level past where our previous comfort zone was. Therefore we improve. This can be done in sports, music, business, and everything!
Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice done over and over, over and over is what makes a person brilliant.
To give a personal example: In order to better spread the word of my services here in Japan I offer a free lecture or seminar explaining what personal training is. Since Personal training isn't very big in this country, to get people to attend I choose a theme such as “Lose Your Belly for Summer”. The reason I offer these seminars is that to hone my skills and be able to do this while on TV, I need to practice, practice, and practice. By having weekly seminars, I am afforded the opportunity to practice diligently with a new audience who will constantly present me with – it’s to be hoped – new questions that will keep me on my toes. Because I can control the nature of the lecture (program design), I can have the attendees take me slightly out of my comfort zone and force me to practice answering questions and rehearsing for when it is time for me to go on TV and do it live in front of a camera.
3) "Feedback on results is continuously available."
This is where a coach is necessary. I may think that the lecture I performed last week was flawless. But from a different point of view it might have had some serious holes in it, which is why I have my business manager at every event, lecture, and interview that I do. That way I can get feedback from someone with an objective viewpoint.
The same thing is necessary with an exercise program. Even the top performers have a coach because they know that in order to get getting better they need an extra set of eyes, ears, and opinions. Lance Armstrong (whose parental influence in this case was his mother) can push himself like no one else can. But his Coach, Chris Carmichael, can push him even harder, better, longer, and safer.
Whether it is in exercise, business, or life, we all need a good coach. If you have never had a Coach or Trainer I highly suggest you make it a top priority to find a good one. Send me an email or check out this link for a list of certified CST Instructors who would be happy to work with you. You won't regret it.
4) "It's highly demanding mentally."
Can anyone say flow? Deliberate practice must force you to be 100% in tune with what you are doing in the moment. This isn't about going into a weight room, picking up a random weight and moving it around. It’s about forgetting the hot guy or gal sweating on the treadmill and going into your session 100% devoted to doing what it takes to make the moment count. There is nothing else but what you are doing RIGHT NOW!
I currently have two up-and-coming CST Instructors training with me. Just today I had one of them work the stopwatch while I performed my TACFIT® session. Afterwards she commented how it was almost scary the way I was so committed to the movements. This was the first time she had actually ever seen me workout. She now knows that when I am on a mission, I get it done. There is no time for half-assed efforts when you’re looking for flow.
5) "It's hard."
This could be described as something that is not fun to do. When we do things that we do well it can be enjoyable. This is not what deliberate practice is about. Remember, we must go slightly outside of our comfort zone and do the work repeatedly in order to improve.
You might even remember me mentioning this recently on my blog here. I wrote that my workout must be fun. However, as you will recall,
"...enjoyable to me means pushing myself harder, faster, longer, and better than I previously was able to. You can always find me grinning like a mad man trying to hold a fart, while sitting in a pool of my sweat at the end of one of my CST workouts."
The meaning of fun or enjoyment to me is what happens after the ass-kicking session - After the absolute devotion to the work that needs to get done in order to continuously improve day to day. Fun for me is knowing that I gave 100% to my workout today in order to become better for tomorrow. I do this in my business and personal life as well. Let hard, play hard. It's all fun to me.
So, let me recap what I have already discussed today.
- First, you must design a program that will force you to improve on a daily basis.
This practice must be one that takes you slightly beyond your current ability and
can be done for repetition.
- Next, it is important to have a knowledgeable person or system that can give you immediate feedback that can be analyzed.
- Your practice must be mentally challenging. No boring workouts! And finally it must be physically challenging. If you are not challenged you will simply be 'just getting by' in all aspects of your life.
Can you honestly say that you have followed these steps to a better, leaner, more worthwhile life? If you can't, I challenge you to get off of the computer and get with the program. Because while maybe we can't be the Best in the World, we can be the best we can be.
I'm making my way through Colvin's book just now - its fascinating stuff, similarly Outliers is a great read. I find it inspiring and exceptionally motivating to know that deliberate (proper) hard work is what seperates the greats from average perfromers. It's certainly helped me get my ass to training twice a day 6 days a week for the last 6 weeks because I can assure you at times I've certainly not felt like it.
'Winning only measures how hard you've worked and how physically talented you are - losing defines who you are' Lance Armstrong
This IS a great topic. Coach Hurst's article is right on the money. I'll throw in my two cents here as well...
Like it or not, some people ARE genetically crafted to be more suited to some activites over others. Muscle fiber types, metabolism, eyesight, etc. The thing is those genetic "gifts" will only take a person so far and the advantage one gleans from it will show loess and less value over time when compared to the athlete who is dilligently training.
The question then becomes, "what does it mean to train dilligently"?
Someone once said, "showing up is half the battle". That person was an idiot. Showing up is NOT half the battle, it's not a third or a fourth of the battle - it's just showing up.
Training dilligently means training smart. Staying healthy and injury free so that you can make consistent progress and not merely a succession of hills and valleys. Training and improving your attributes only to become injured, have to take time off and regressing while you convalesce. Training dilligently means training when you don't feel like it, when it isn't fun or glamorous. It means being concerned with your progression and perfomance and NOT how cool or uncool you look. It means putting your ego aside and having someone there to make sure you're on the right path. We all need coaches. There is no exception to that rule. It is impossible for anyone to look completely and totally impartialy and critically at their own pefomance. A good coach is there to not only get and keep you on the right path but also to motivate you when you are not able to motivate yourself. In every case i've ever seen, an athlete or client is able to push themselves further with a coach than without - i've never seen the exception.
Beyond training dilligently, there are other components as well. Focus and desire are two of the biggies.
Focus, means that you not only "show up", but you are "there when you're there". You're in the moment and in the process not merely participating or mindlessly going through the motions. YOu have to be an active participant or all your training is a waste. When you finish an exercise, training drill or practice of any kind, you should be thinking "how could I do that better?". Whatever training method you're engaged in isn't (well shouldn't be) a series of random tasks to be completed, but an intelligent progression designed to directly impact your overall performance or specific training goals. In order to improve, you should be seeking to improve not only the attributes involved but the skills as well.
Desire is mandatory. If you want to be great at something, you have to want it. You have to NEED it. Several years ago a study was done with basketball players and free throws. One group practiced shooting free throws and the other group visualized throwing freethrows. When they were tested, the results showed that there was very little differnce between the two groups and that virtually all athletes tested improved. Now this doesn't mean that simply thinking about an increased performance is better or even equal to training. What it does show is that there is true value to visualizing, thinking about and believing in your skills - this is where desire comes in.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, as a martial artist and coach, I'm very good at what I do. The biggest reason is that I absolutely love it. I think about it the majority of the day - every day without exception. I compare everything to it and relate to almost everything from that position. When I studied psychology in college, I processed all the information through a martial arts filter. "How does this apply to fighting?". I processed mathmatics and every other subject in the same fashion.
Your desire directly impacts your focus. An exeptional athlete doesn't TRY and focus when training, they just do. They do because of their desire and passion. It's not that they are WILLING to do what's necessary, it's that there's nothing else they would rather be doing.
Though there are many others, the last one i'll mention is HUNGER. Hunger is a little bitdifferent in my opinion (My definitions - I make them up as I go). Desire is how much you want something. Hunger is how much you need it. Hunger translates directly to increased perfomance because it's not about wanting to win or perform at your best - it's about NEEDING to perform PERIOD. Worry about looking bad, embarrassment or failure causes a person to have the intent of not doing bad rather than doing well. Elite athletes need to push themselves, they need to excell for themselves. Imagine if Michael Jordan had worried about missing or screwing up a dunk. What if he had played it safe? Consider also Jose Conseco. In 1991 Conseco hit a whopping 44 home runs - more than anyone else that season. That same year he also struck out 152 times, the second highest number of "failures" in the league.
Whatever small advatntages some people come to the table with genetically will get washed away if they don't have the above. Genetic "gifts" will only take a person so far. Beyond that it takes dilligence, focus, desire and hunger and having the brains to realize that you cant get there by yourself.
Well spoken Coaches!
Woody Brister CST Coach, TACFIT Field Instructor
"The more knowledge I gain the more I thirst for it, when I share my knowledge it quenches my thirst."
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