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7 Secrets Top Athletes Can Teach You About Being The Best At Anything

Stashed in: #greatness, Learn!, Focus!, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, 10,000 Hours, Reflection, Success

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Don’t Let Anyone Say You Don’t Have Talent

You get told you don’t have natural talent at something. Or you’re not smart enough. Not fast enough. So you get discouraged and quit.

But new research is showing some abilities don’t make themselves visible until challenges get hard enough.

What Do You “Rage To Master”?

What do prodigies have in common? Ellen Winner at Boston College calls it the “rage to master.” It’s an insatiable desire to get better at something specific.

Don’t Follow Instructions. Learn Like A Baby.

When did you learn the most and learn the fastest? There’s no debate: it’s when you were a baby. You didn’t get clear instructions from anybody on anything and yet you learned some of the most complex things in the world, like walking and talking.

This process (“implicit learning”) isn’t just for babies. We’re often too focused on executing very specific steps and so we don’t take the time to fumble around and make mistakes like when we were kids.

Ask “What’s Most Important Here?”

In The Sports Gene, David tells the story of what happened when top baseball batters went up against a female softball pitcher.

She struck every single one of them out. How did she do it?

Because the old advice of “keep your eye on the ball” is dead wrong. In fact, it’s impossible — a baseball moves too fast. It’s not about reaction time. It’s about the subtle cues a batter sees in a pitcher’s body before they throw the ball.

But baseball batters aren’t used to how softball pitchers move. They get all the cues wrong and strike out.

If you don’t know what the important part of what you’re trying to learn is then you’re like a batter trying to keep their eye on the ball. You’re focused on improving the wrong thing.

Find Your “Optimal Push”

The kids who questioned their teachers got to know themselves better. So they were better judges of what they could and couldn’t do.

This allowed them to best practice at a level where they were always stretching themselves but not so much that the task was impossible. This is called “optimal push.”

Knowing your “optimal push” means you don’t plateau — you just keep getting better. And when you screw up you’ll learn more from your mistakes.

The #1 Thing Is Reflection

David asked the head of the Groningen talent studies if she could sum up in one word the thing that all the top kids (in school or any sport) all had in common.

She said “Reflection.” They think about what they did and ask themselves if it’s working.

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