Why Does Visualization Work?

She’d said she needed a hitting partner; just show up, she said, hit for a few hours a day and I’d have the rest of the day to hang at the beach. The South of France sounded really good from where I was sitting, in a cube in San Jose, California. I was a lousy engineer so quitting wasn’t hard.

What Makes You An Expert?

Experts recognize patterns. They started out, as we did, frustrated as hell with this stupid game. I’d bet that Lionel Messi swung and completely missed the football when he was five years old, just like you and I did, hoping that no one saw. Gary Kasparov made idiotic opening moves that caused him to lose in minutes. Laird Hamilton fell over and over and over. But in slow, glacial, barely noticeable steps, they improved and got really, really good. So

Three Keys to Peak Performance

Katie asked a great question about the elements of peak performance in a comment from an earlier post: Imagine that you were asked to speak to your favorite college sports team about the topic of peak performance. What 3 major points would you emphasize about how to be great? If it’s a college team, the athletes have been in their sport for over ten years. So any discussion about motivation, preparation and WHY they play the game would be simply

Who is better? The Natural or The Hard Worker?

You’ve seen them. The girl who was handed a bat for the first time and smacked the first pitch over the left fielder’s head. The kid in high school who wandered over, still wearing his school uniform, picked up a javelin and casually threw it 15 feet further than everyone else. We talk about them with one part awe, one part jealousy, one part hoping for our own ego’s sake that it was a lucky shot and they couldn’t do

Do you love to practice?

If I want to be an expert performer and I’m just starting out, I’m looking up at 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Dr. Anders Ericsson has shown us in his research that it’s going to take me about nine to ten years of applying myself, four hours a day, five days a week for about a decade to reach the elite level. Phew. That sounds overwhelming and not an appealing way to spend what little free time I have. This

It’s more than 10,000 hours, sorry.

So much has been written about putting in 10,000 hours to become an expert. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code and Matthew Syed in Bounce are recent (and really, very good) books to cover Anders Ericsson’s original research. It’s a great maxim that sticks in your mind: put in the hours and you’ll inevitably emerge an expert in your sport, in chess or playing the piano. It’s been proven, right? So how hard can that be?

Team Performance

Just got back from a visit to the Bay Area where I talked with old friends from the tech industry about performance and what makes teams great. Surprisingly, I got the same answers from a lot of different people: Get the right people on the team: hire, transfer, promote just get them together. Get rid of the wrong people: they quickly reveal themselves. Don’t hesitate – do it early or the consequences could be messy. Let the team recommend what

Practice

If you’re over the age of 10, then you probably are, like me, a bit depressed by the recent popular revelations that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery. 10,000 hours. That’s a really long time, a big sacrifice and commitment in your life to become really great at something. However, Jonah Lehrer’s comments on a Time article about Magnus Carlsen are as encouraging as Magnus’s accomplishment of becoming the youngest #1 chess player in the world is astounding. Magnus

Stories

To make sense of the world, we constantly tell ourselves stories. It’s the voice in our head, the chattering that goes on almost all the time as a running commentary: “Woo, that was a great shot!”, “Why do I ALWAYS choke?”, “That guy is so annoying”, “I’d be so much happier if I wasn’t such a fat slob”. And so on. If we pay attention, we’re surprised how tough we are on ourselves saying things that we’d NEVER say to