10 Apr How To Excel In Anything And Avoid Being Average
There’s no doubt that one the biggest training mistakes when I started out was that I wasn’t training to improve my performance. I was training for other reasons. Honestly, I never understood the importance of technique or pursuing the path to mastery.
Today, it’s a completely different story and I want to share with you a lesson I wish I knew years ago.
The greatest thing about chasing excellence is that you can perpetually improve yourself, your skills, your results, and your life in so many ways.
In today’s world, the truth is that people mostly live without developing themselves physically anywhere near their full potential.
Is it because they don’t have the ability to run fast, lift heavy, lift explosively or perform any high-level athletic endeavor?
One reason is because most choose to live life in comfort and leaving “good enough” alone.
I’ve been reading an absolutely mind-blowing new book called PEAK, Secrets From The New Science of Expertise that discusses these concepts and the importance of deliberate practice, which we’ll talk about in just a minute.
As I’ve been reading through this neuroscience book, I’ve found to be in full agreement with the author’s viewpoint on the development of peak performance, which I’ll further explain.
HOW TO EXCEL IN ANYTHING
Here’s the simple model for how to excel in anything. For the sake of this example, we’ll refer to excelling in barbell training and getting started and improving with the deadlift.
Keep in mind that the steps I’ll share with you can apply to anything, any skill, any sport, and anything you’d like to learn and excel with.
This basic framework is how it works.
You purchase the gear or equipment you need. In this case, you need barbells or access to barbells.
You get coaching.
You start to learn about the thing you want to get good with. You read books, you read articles, you check out the videos that show you how to do something, and hopefully you get qualified coaching.
You get started and you practice.
Once you have the equipment and you’ve learned enough to get started, then you simply start to practice what you have learned. This goes with any sport or skill, whatever it is. You start to establish some level of basic proficiency.
Good enough or mastery?
Now, this is the critical step (or choice) that happens next.
You either decide that you are “good enough” and comfortable with where you are or you decide to pursue things to a higher level.
If you decide to pursue the higher level, this is the critical decision to continue your improvement and develop yourself – which could never stop as you can continue to go down the path to mastery indefinitely.
Many people in many endeavors say “that’s it, that’s good enough is good for me.”
But there’s a potential danger with that called complacency.
Let’s be clear on mastery because it’s a path you go down – it’s not something that’s necessarily achieved (it may or may not be).
Mastery is truly about the journey.
If you choose to continue to challenge yourself to your potential, then you get more coaching,
you read more books, and you do the things that are necessary for you to move forward.
Not everyone will take this 5th step, many will choose “good enough.”
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Maybe it shouldn’t be like that.
PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT
Practice makes perfect, right?
No, not if your practice sucks.
Practice makes permanent and that’s why it’s important to practice right.
This is where the concept of deliberate practice comes into play as repetitions alone are not enough.
This also means that the 10,000-hour rule doesn’t always apply if you actually don’t get any better.
(*The 10,000-hour rule suggests that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a field).
You have to challenge yourself and get out of your “comfort zone” in anything otherwise, you will not improve.
Think about how true this is and then realize how we all have the potential to be great.
How often do we get comfortable and as a result fail to continue to improve and develop? This can happen for a number of reasons, but living in the “comfort zone” can be self-limiting and even destructive.
So what is deliberate practice?
Deliberate practice is purposeful practice that pushes you towards a specific goal and having a way to monitor progress.
DELIBERATE PRACTICE = SPECIFIC GOAL + ASSESS PROGRESS
Let’s get back to the deadlift example.
Let’s say you perform a deadlift with the objectives to improve your technique.
There are many technical considerations with the deadlift, but let’s say you have a specific goal of deadlifting in these 3 areas you want to improve:
-correct spine technique
-correct breathing technique
-maximizing leg drive
This is a specific example of deliberate practice in which you’ve narrowed things down to 3 simple things to focus on and improve.
You could even narrow things down more and focus on just one thing, leg drive, for example.
You want to keep things as simple as possible and not think about too much at any given time.
You could also come up with a similar approach with the kettlebell swing, where you would work on maybe 3 areas such as:
-correct hip hinge
-explosive hip drive
Once again, there are many things that we could list, but we are drilling down to only 3 things to work on. Once we improve these areas, then we can work on other technical nuances.
And the reality is that we are always working on this over a series of training sessions with deliberate practice.
This approach is a huge step forward to achieve any long-term goal – and feedback is key.
Remember, practice makes permanent so you have to practice right.
How do you know when you’re doing something right or wrong?
That’s the next big question, right?
You could simply video yourself and watch the replay. Then observe the things that you’re working to improve. I do this frequently and it’s extremely valuable – of course, you have to know what you’re looking for.
Or you could find a qualified coach who can observe your technique and give you the necessary feedback to improve your skills. This is highly recommended if you really want to get to the next level.
IDEAS FOR FEEDBACK AND PROGRESS:
- Video yourself
- Get with a qualified coach
- Surround yourself with the right people
- Take a workshop or seminar
What’s the bottom line and why am I sharing this information with you now?
Because you can choose to go down the path of mastery and always work towards becoming great in anything you do.
The harsh reality is that when you’re comfortable and settle for “good enough” – you become average.
When you have passion about what you’re doing and you desire to improve, you’ll be moving dramatically closer to tapping into your physical potential.
Never settle for average and embrace the concept of deliberate practice in training – and in life.
Anybody has the potential to be great, regardless of age, gender, or experience.
It comes down to the choices we make.
How do you excel?
You have to choose to excel. You have to choose a path of mastery – and never settle for being just “good enough.” Aways work to become “just a little bit better.”
For more on this topic and the fascinating neuroscience of high performance, I highly recommend the new book PEAK by Anders Ericsson.
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