We Are All Natural Athletes

When was the last time you watched an athlete do something like this (watch from 1:40) and think “natural athlete”?

I do. We all do. It’s a handy explanation for why we don’t throw everything to the side and find our limits, because let’s face it, you’re just not naturally talented.

But it’s unfair to the athlete to say that their talent is natural, that they were born with it. These athletes are made, through hard effort. They don’t just come out of the womb as future world-class performers. They work for years to bring out the potential in their bodies and their brains.

There’s variation in potential, of course. Some are faster than others, stronger, quicker, taller or shorter that gives them a natural advantage, we reason. Ivo Karlovic is a 6’ 10” pro tennis player; Olivier Rochus is 5’ 5”, who is, incidentally, ranked 52 spots higher. Both players have worked very, very hard to make the most of their physical gifts (or limitations, depending on your point of view). Is being tall “better”? What about the “clear advantage” of a lower center of gravity? Which player is overcoming the most adversity?

The point is, these “natural” traits don’t completely determine who is going to be the best. There must be something else that goes into becoming great.


Greatness is in the Chemistry

The brain and the body are controlled by chemistry. Bruce Lipton, doctor, med school professor and author of The Biology of Belief says that our genes are merely the blueprints. Our talent, gifts and skills show up when our blueprint, held in our DNA in each cell, meets the world outside the cell wall.

The outside world? To a cell, that’s just what’s on the other side of the membrane, the chemicals that wash over it based on what your body produces under stress or at rest, when you’re nervous or confident. Over time, each cell reacts to the outside world. All the cells become you: defined by your training, your fear, your diet, your beliefs. All of these translate into chemicals in your body and your cells react.

Dr. Lipton admits he is out there. In a recent talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, he speaks of how he has spent many years on the periphery of the medical world.

But if we admit that most of our talent is based on chemistry, and that chemistry is within our control by focusing on what we eat, how we train, when we rest, what we believe, then our ready excuses of “but I’m just not a natural” go away.

Most of us aren’t ready to accept that responsibility.

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3 comments On We Are All Natural Athletes

  • Good article. I agree with Dr. Lipton, raw potential is inside all of us. How it comes out is the key and, in my experience, a lot of it is tied to expectation and imagination.

  • One of the more fascinating aspects to Dr. Lipton’s thesis is how thoughts in the brain translate into neurochemicals that then affect how cells change and develop. So belief, expectation, imagination – all of these abstractions become specific chemical inputs into our cells.

  • My proof for this concept (for skeptical clients) is to ask if they’ve ever had an emotional reaction watching a movie. When they say yes, I ask if they know movies aren’t real! My point is, even though we know that, we allow our thoughts to affect our brain neurologically – producing adrenalin and other hormones. This results in a change in heart rate, respiration and perspiration – all the way to a full-fledged fight or flight response – to something we analytically know is fake.

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