• 1st March 2009 - By adventuresofgreg

    I just finished a 100 km running week. I’m not sure if I have ever run that much in one week previously, but I didn’t find it that tough. I think the most difficult part was running INSIDE around a track for two, 2-hour runs and one, 3-hour run. The weather here is still cold and icy and I really hate running outside when it’s minus

    I’ve been passing the time listening to audio books while making my endless circles around the track. The most recent book that I’m REALLY loving is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. I really like it because it really supports what I truly believe, and speak about – that if you want something badly enough, you CAN accomplish almost ANYTHING you set your mind to. And, that innate talent isn’t really a very important factor for success.

    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 programmers 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!

    Have you become world class at something? If so, I would like to hear from you. Send me an email, or add a comment to this blog post and tell me about your accomplishment AND, tell me approximately how many hours you invested into it. Malcolm has calculated that it takes about 10,000 hours to become world class at almost anything. I’d like to run a little experiment to see if this is true. Send me a note and I will compile the results in a future blog post.



  • 7 Comments to “Motivation”

    • ACEinAUS on March 1, 2009

      10k hours… I must be a World class internet surver, how is that tested?

    • Anonymous on March 1, 2009

      Aceinaus, not sure on how world class you are if you cannot spell.

    • Anonymous on March 2, 2009

      The horse's birthday in the southern hemisphere is 1st August.

      This is also now the cut off date for age entry into kindergarten and sporting age divisions. It has not always been aligned like this but I do not think 1st January has ever been a significant date for age cut off in Australia.

      I am not sure if the hypothesis on beginning of the year would hold if you look at southern hemisphere. It should show Aug, Sept and Oct as the high performing birth dates.

      My youngest son was allowed to start school early because he regularly visited school with older brothers. He was more than a year younger than some class mates. His lack of emotional maturity was evident up till high school but his scholastic achievement was always high. He won the Australia Student Prize on matriculation.

      I also coached soccer for many years and observed a wide range of talent. I have seen under 5 yo play well at under 8 level. I have seen under 11 play well at under 13.

      I have a nephew who is 70kg and plays under 12 rugby. He can almost score at will. He can carry four other players across the line. I doubt that he will have the speed to be world class but right now he could play a couple of years up and hold his own.

      I agree that you can learn skills but I also believe that there are certain talents that make the chosen road much easier. Normally being good will bring rewards and the effort becomes self fulfilling.

    • Frank Eeckman on March 2, 2009

      I guess we never heard of a thing called genetics?

    • Adventures of Greg on March 2, 2009

      I don't think there is any denying that genetics and innate talent does come into play regarding success – of course it does! Malcolm Gladwell Also agrees that this does definitely play an important role in notable achievement. His point is that it doesn't play as important a role as we previously thought, and I agree with that. Read the book – he makes a VERY strong case.

      He talks about a threshold – you don't have to be the tallest basketball player – you just have to be TALL ENOUGH. Stats show that if you are taller than 6 foot 4 (I think – need to look that up, but it's surprisingly NOT that tall compared to what some heights can get to in the NBA), then your advantage over those who are shorter (over the threshold) is ZERO!

      Same thing with IQ, same with other traits. Once you are over the threshold, you can achieve world level accomplishment if you put the hours in.

    • Greg on March 4, 2009

      Interesting post, Greg… You often hear people say in those feel-good news stories that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. I always thought that gave some a false sense of hope because what they also neglected to mention was that you had to put your time into it as well.

      I trained in my single scull for 6-7 days per week for four straight years following 2 years of collegiate rowing. I put in the time, I put in the work, I raced nationally, but never achieved the glory. Maybe it's because I didn't want it enough…

      Or maybe it's because I am only 6 foot 3!


    • Anonymous on June 24, 2009

      To anonymous, do you realize a kid who has a birthday a couple of weeks or months after the cut off, gets to wait another year to begin school or participate in sports has almost a another year to mature? I was born in mid Sept the cut off was two weeks later. I began school at age 5.
      What advantage did I have? I was the youngest, smallest not to mention I was born a month early, of all my classmates. Just a few years ago the lack of books on better parental skills with younger kids,the quality of preschool wasn't available,the information highway wasn't available..So maturity or being older,bigger,stronger more experienced was a huge advantage when I was a kid. It's still a advantage today, kids a bit older than their class mates also benefit from the new age of technology.Exceptional talents are always good at any age,some have to be developed (Micheal Jordan) At the age of 17 I graduated High School and was still in a growing spurt. I made the all state football team barely also the next year I would have been 15 pounds heavier,bigger faster and more experienced at the sport and possibly could have gotten a scholarship. I caught up and pasted by several friends but at what cost? The jump from High school to college is all about your senior year walk-ons are seen as a coaches mistake and rarely make it.. In college they redshirt freshmen recruits to let them mature, you have 5th year seniors. Look at how many super talents in college wait one more year before they come out to the Professional leagues here in the USA to make sure they can compete with grown men?

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