Practice Perfect

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What do hockey player's birthdays and The Beatles early gigs in German strip clubs teach us about MOTIVATION?

They both serve as really great evidence that innate ability is NOT a very important factor in achieving success. When we realize that and take it to heart, we are encouraged to believe that we can indeed accomplish ANYTHING if we are willing to do the work involved, and that knowledge provides us with the motivation we need to pursue our goals with confidence and enthusiasm.

According to Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers", a very strange coincidence was noticed in a hockey player roster - an unusually large percentage of of the players on the team had birthdays in January. The remainder of the team had birthdays in February or March. He looked into it and discovered this strange birthday effect in other sports in other countries around the world. And he also found this effect is other disciplines as well - not just sports. The reason people born early in the year were better at sports, and music and chess and school and many other challenges in life was simple - every time you have a cut-off date to join a group when you are young, those born earlier in the year have a TIME advantage over those born later in the year.

So - in our 'clever' system designed to filter through millions of young children to select the best of the best of the best in terms of innate talent for our sports teams, dance competitions, debate teams, piano recitals, etc, what we actually end up doing is simply sorting our kids by month of birth, and singling out those born earlier in the calendar year who are up to a full year older and more mature than the other kids in that 12 month age bracket. When you are 8 years old, 10 months worth of age advantage is a full 10% of your life!

Why is Tiger Woods such an amazing golfer? It is no secret that he practiced like a maniac from a VERY early age. Tiger was playing golf on a regular basis when he was 2 years old. Because his father introduced him to golf at an extremely early age of 18 months and encouraged him to practice intensively, Woods had racked up at least 15 years of practice by the time he became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, at age 18. Did you know that the Beatles used to play on stage in Hamburg strip clubs for 8 hours per day? By the time they became "over night sensations" in North America, then had already practiced more hours than most other bands did in their entire careers!

Same goes with Bill Gates and programming computers. He just happened to have access to a university computer lab that had new, very fast time-sharing mainframe computers, and spent thousands of hours leaning programming. By the time he was in late high school, he was probably one of the most talented computer programers on the planet.

What does this have to do with motivation? Well, it turns out that success in almost anything at all has WAY more to do with the amount of TIME we have to PRACTICE (or WORK at learning how to do it) than innate talent. So, if you really want to be the best drummer in the world, the best speller in your grade, the best chef in your city, the best sales rep in your region, the fastest runner in your age group or simply the best friend you can be, then you need to know that you can do it if you are both willing and able to WORK at it!

Studies have shown that we we BELIEVE we can accomplish something, we are far more likely to invest the time into working toward that goal. Kids in groups who were told they were the top 10%, practiced an average of 30% MORE than the remainder of the group. And this had nothing to do with talent - it's just that those children were slightly older than the other kids in the age-grouping and had the benefit of almost a full year of extra practice time under their belts. Since they were singled out each year as the best in their groups, they eagerly increased their practice time by an additional 30% over the other kids. This has a compounding effect - 30% more time invested each year, year after year, means that when you turn 18, and a hockey scout watches your team play hockey, you are probably going to stand out as some kind of super star.

In my speech Bold!, I say that the first step in accomplishing a goal is to get out there on the edge and make it big. Our boldness toward choosing a goal provides us with the, excitement and passion that we are going to require on our journey. Anything less and we just won't care enough. But the very first step in this process is to boldly BELIEVE that you ARE capable of doing it! Your belief will provide you with the motivation to invest the time and effort into achieving your goal because you will KNOW that you are capable of achieving success!

So what is it that YOU want to accomplish? Is it BOLD enough? And are you willing to go to work? If so, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Believe in yourself and in the words of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: "What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. For boldness has genius, power and magic in it." BEGIN IT! human-power

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