Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"The rebuttal to this actually takes an entire book to convey, but it first involves helping people understand that everything about talent is a process. There’s the genetic piece, and then there’s the ability piece... From a distance, it looks like they [high achievers] have got something almost super-human about them. But when you look up close, at the moment-to-moment lives they lead, the sacrifices they make, the extraordinary resources they have around them, their abilities actually do make logical sense. If it’s documented closely enough, you can actually see how they went from mediocre to good, from good to great, from great to extraordinary...

In consumer culture, we are constantly conditioned to gratify our impulses immediately: buy, eat, watch, click— now. High achievers transcend these impulses... Small accomplishments along the way provide more than enough satisfaction to continue."
-David Shenk, author of The Genious in All of Us

The NY Times Freakonomics Blog had an interview with David Shenk about his book, The Genious in All of Us. In the book, Mr. Shank explains that "intelligence" and "talent" are much less genetically determined than most of us would like to believe. Rather, thousands of hours of practice are behind most geniuses' greatness.

I thought some of his points were particularly applicable to triathletes as too often new entrants into the sport look for the "quick fix" when in reality improvement comes over time. There is no way to instantly drop 30sec off your 100yd times in the pool or 1min off your mile pace in a 10km. However, long term, focused, consistent training will ultimately lead to substantial improvements. The key is to stay focused to the long term goal and not expect instant gratification.

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