“One problem people have is that they lie to themselves… rarely is talent enough. You have to find ways to make yourself standout. You do so by playing to your strengths and making people aware of those strengths.”
~ Mark Cuban
If you’ve been reading me for any amount of time you should know that I’m a strong advocate, maybe the only advocate in traditional personal and spiritual development, at least one of a very few, of what I’ve coined as Innate Ability Development® (IAD). (reference IAD series)
IAD is the cornerstone of living life to the fullest and experiencing your own personal Ultimate Human Performance. Building your life around your unique genius does not guaranteed that you’ll necessarily be super successful by worldly or monetary measures, there are few guarantees in life.
But what is guaranteed is that you will be super successful in life and living. You’ll live a fully engaged, and completely fulfilling life.
And isn’t that what life is really about?
In our last installment we began a discussion of enjoyment versus pleasure. While they may be close cousins, they’re definitely different. You can enjoy something that’s pleasing, but something pleasing doesn’t guarantee true enjoyment. This an important distinction to make.
Psychological research proves that while it may be pleasing for you to watch a sporting event on television, you will never enjoy it. Let me explain the distinction.
Joy only comes, when and if it does, when we’re fully engaged in activity. When we’re going full-force toward a goal and intention for our lives that we deem as meaningful.
To experience true joy you must do something…
Not just watch something.
To this end, we also realized that pleasing activities do not always equate to pleasing results. The tough fact, is that if pleasing results are the outcome… in many if not most cases, we must be willing to experience displeasing activities. Are you with me?
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit.
Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
~ Muhammed Ali
While many are talented, talent alone won’t cut it. Talent alone will never bring you to the experience of your own Ultimate Human Performance.
In the early 1980’s, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom from the University of Chicago launched the Talent Project. It was one of the largest studies of world-class performance ever conducted.
Bloom and his colleagues studied over a 100 people whom had all demonstrated the highest levels of achievement in several fields including:
- Mathematics and
The focus of his research was to answer the question, “Does incredible talent and genius come from special people, or from special circumstances?” This is the age old question of nature versus nurture.
In other words, is superhuman performance the result of inborn talent or environmental factors?
Prior to the study, Bloom was convinced that world-class performance, what we’re discussing as UHP, came from individuals who were basically born gifted; and then encouraged to nurture their natural abilities.
The results were astounding.
The research conclusively proved that masters were completely made not born. Let that sink in.
In fact, very few of the subjects that reached their stride showed any promise whatsoever early in life. They worked incredibly hard and consistently to achieve a level of world-class.
Prodigies are made not born.
What are you making of your life?
What are you committed to?
Life is not meant to be easy… it’s meant to be meaningful
If you’re committed to living your life fully and completely…
If you’re committed to attaining your own level of mastery…
If you’re ready to live at a level of your own Ultimate Human Performance for your talents, abilities and love…
Then you must be willing to put in the work. Sorry to burst your romantic bubble if you thought otherwise. Unfortunately we live in a society where the vast majority are caught in the claws of romantic idealism.
You must be completely obsessed with what you’re here to accomplish and contribute. I call this your Magnificent Obsession; and your own personal UHP is the outcome of living and breathing your Magnificent Obsession.
Ultimate Human Performance is the result of dedicating every ounce of energy, and every single breath, to living it and leveraging it and bringing your greatness to the world.
Make no mistake… your Magnificent Obsession, if real, will take every single ounce of energy and attention that you have.
Strength and fortitude, like character,
Grow from pushing against greater resistance.
Look at a lightbulb. Do you know how it’s enabled to put out light? Observe that in every light bulb is a little filament dead center.
Have you seen it?
This filament is a resister; and the degree of light that’s emitted from the bulb is directly correlated to the amount of the resistance that the energy current pulsing through the bulb must push against.
It’s the pushing against resistance that creates the output. Please read that again.
This simple bulb is an example of Ohm’s Law regarding the velocity of energy and electricity. This law is documented as E=I x R.
E: stands for energy, and/or the velocity of the energy, is directly equal to I: which represents the current potentially flowing through the bulb or device; multiplied by (and this is important), R: which represents the amount of resistance that it must push against.
E=I x R. Let Ohm’s Law and all its implications sink in.
Hmmm… I’m curious, is there a metaphor here?
Yes… I think there is!
Applying Ohm’s Law of energy, to the understanding of what’s necessary for you to achieve your own mastery, we must go to the research of Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson.
Ericsson performed one of the most famous and comprehensive studies of world-class performance in recent history.
Ericsson found that while one’s talent and environment were helpful, they were pale by comparison to the single most powerful indicator of greatness.
The quality of your practice determines the quality of your work.
But not just any practice, what he called “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice is vastly different from regular practice. Deliberate practice is practice with very certain parameters; and it pushes against both psychological and physical resistance.
Your personal best of today must become your norm of tomorrow.
Deliberate practice is practice with the sole focused intention of continuous improvement. And this paradigm will butt up against tremendous psychological and physical resistance.
Count on it.
In 2012 when Kobe Bryant was preparing to represent the United States in the Olympics, he practiced 800 jump shots per day, between the hours of 7AM and 11AM, every single morning.
This is important in that there was a definite goal during a defined parameter of time. But it gets better.
In addition, these jump shots were conducted after getting up at 4AM and running wind sprints from 4:30 to 6AM;
And after lifting weights from 6AM to 7;
And all prior to his 11AM start time for practice with the team. In other words, 11AM is when the regular team practice began. But not team Kobe. (reference Mastery, Genius and Greatness series)
Did you follow that?
Not only that but Kobe, (who has never even been close to overweight), intentionally lost 16 pounds prior to the Olympic Games. He stated that at the ripe old age of 33 he needed to “take all possible pressure off his knees.”
That’s what makes Kobe, “Kobe Bryant”; and whether you like him or not is completely irrelevant. Kobe’s Magnificent Obsession is a testament to both the Bloom and Ericsson study of UHP. Namely:
- Incredible work ethic
- Increasing complexity and resistance
- Deliberate practice and immediate feedback.
While the beginner wishes for an easier life…
The master works on a full life.
Increasing complexity does not mean that to experience UHP you must diversify your focus. In fact, just the opposite. In 1994 when Jordan attempted to play baseball he quickly realized that he had to just as quickly get back to his calling.
Increasing complexity in psychological research is defined as increasing challenge in your particular field.
Increasing complexity in this context is incredible simplicity.
It’s pushing the envelope of your One Thing. (reference Mastery, Genius and Greatness: Simplicity is Power)
This increasing complexity/challenge obviously creates greater resistance. Let’s face it, sticking with your One Thing, your sole (soul) Magnificent Obsession often creates great resistance. Are you with me?
I can’t tell you how many would be greats fall prey to the Jordan move of jumping from their calling to something else that glimmers in the sunlight.
“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.”
~ Mark Cuban
Likewise how many reach a certain peak in their life and think it’s time to rest and enjoy the view.
In 2012 Kobe could have rested on his laurels prior to the Olympics. He was at the peak, right?
I mean after all, he’d been to the Olympics before and was already one of the most successful basketball players in the world, right?
Instead, he upped his already stratospheric game. He increased the complexity, intensity and certainly faced physical/psychological resistance.
Cuban, Bryant, Jordan, Mother Teresa, Mozart, Picasso, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Horowitz, and many others have proven that they understand increasing complexity and pushing against resistance.
If you’re unwilling to step up to this level with your own Magnificent Obsession then you might as well stand down. And unfortunately you most probably will never experience a fully energized fully engaged life.
You’ll be regulated to the realms of the 71% of the population that a recent Gallup Poll tells us are unhappy, unfulfilled and disengaged from their work.
The choice is yours.
Next week we’ll explore item number two above in more depth and detail. What exactly is deliberate practice and how is it defined? As well as the issue of an immediate feedback loop.
And the journey continues…
Stay Awake, Love Life and Be Epic!