Blog Posts

Motivation

Much more about motivation in later posts, but I came across this nugget today from a July 2009 article in Nature by Kielan Yarrow: “…the big question in sport is the nature of the motivation underlying the thousands of hours of practise (sic) required to achieve elite status. There is evidence to suggest that those who practise the most enjoy it the least, which might reflect their awareness of the real goal of practise: to get better at what you

It’s All About Control

Peak performance happens in the present when you are unburdened by your thinking side of your brain and the performance just flows out of you. Where we often get caught during our performance is thinking about things that we can control, and things we think we can control but can’t. Every performance has aspects of it that we cannot control: the opponent, the weather, the crowd, the referee’s judgement, that annoying red sweater that guy is wearing in Row 3.

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

Vikings

I was watching my beloved Minnesota Vikings blow another chance to go to the Super Bowl last night. I found myself contorted, snarling and gasping as the game progressed and I was just sitting on my couch. I wondered how the players could possibly deal with the ups and downs of the game, they were so close to it in the intensity of the moment. But then, during one of the time outs I think, I turned off the sound

This is your brain. In The Zone

We’ve often heard that we use only 10% of our brain, which begs the question: what would happen if we used ALL our brain? What amazing things could we accomplish then? The brain is made up of areas that do very specific things: an area for processing visual images, an area for eye movement, an area for language, and so on. So when we’re doing a very specific thing, reading this blog, for example, we’re only using those specific parts

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

Time and Effort

I grew up in a family and culture where the equation was crystal clear: more effort = more results. The harder you worked, the better your results and if you weren’t getting those results, well, you’d better work harder, son. Up to a point in sports, this holds true. To be an elite performer, you have to put in the time, the difficult, frustrating effort to master your craft. This is the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice that Malcolm Gladwell

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

Beginning

This is an offering of thoughts on the science and psychology of elite human performance. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional tennis player; I was awed by the drama and the skills of Borg, Connors, McEnroe and later by Edberg and Agassi. I wanted to play a part in that sport at the highest level. But, I didn’t. At some point in my early twenties I decided that I didn’t have what it took. And