The Science Behind Superior Performance

This may come as a shock to many of you, but YOU do have the ability to become the best player in the world!  You don’t have to be born with talent; as a matter of fact, science has proven that no one is born with talent.  There is also no disputing that some are born with slightly better genes than others, but it is a small component of becoming a superior performer, regardless of the area of practice. This leads us to discuss Nature vs. Nurture. How much does environment have to do with our ability to become great?  It has a lot!  In the books Road to Excellence and The Talent Code, we learn about how certain cultures or environments produce the highest levels of athletic performance from some of the least expected regions of the world.

Let me explain or highlight a small bit of knowledge on developing high level of performance.  Counter to the common belief that expert performance reflects innate abilities and capacities, recent research shows that expert performance is predominantly mediated by acquired complex skills and physiological adaptations. For elite performers, supervised practice starts at very young ages and is maintained at high daily levels for more than a decade. The effects of extended deliberate practice are more far-reaching than is commonly believed. Performers can acquire skills that circumvent basic limits on working memory capacity and sequential processing. Deliberate practice can also lead to anatomical changes resulting from adaptations to intense physical activity. The study of expert performance has important implications for our understanding of the structure and limits of human adaptation and optimal learning.  This is why we believe function dictates form. When your body is able to move efficiently throughout the motion of a golf swing there is less adaptation to limiting factors such as limited ranges of motion or lack of stability. 

It has been found in nearly every field of human endeavor, the performance of the best practitioners is outstanding (Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Ted Williams, Michael Jordan, Pele or Tom Brady). So superior even to the performance of other highly experienced individuals in the field, that most people believe a unique, qualitative attribute, commonly called innate talent, must be invoked to account for this highest level of performance. Although these differences in performance are by far the largest psychologists have been able to reliably measure among healthy adults, exceptional performance has not, until recently, been extensively studied by scientists.  By understanding how these individuals have been able to separate themselves from the other great athletes is eye opening.  Knowing that all of the mentioned athletes happened to grow up in an environment very rich in deliberate practice or playing many simulated games alone helped researchers understand that these individuals were not born with more talent, but that they developed it over time with a focus of becoming the best that they can be.  Psychologically telling themselves, “I will be better than everyone else who played” in their sport, unrelenting in their pursuit of perfection for themselves.  What we can learn from the greats of industry is that it is not one big moment that lead them to their greatness but many small, and perhaps undetectable actions that made their greatness appear! 

So, the next time you have failure in your pursuit of excellence or winning your next event, have the resolve to know that too is part of learning and adapting to situations. It is practice for future successes!  Every great performer has many, many failures to their success!  Dare to grow, dare to fail, dare to be great!

Enjoy Your Journey!

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