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What Does It Take To Excel?


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If you think that the main difference between the motoGP demigods and the rest of us is the natural gift or talent of, say, Rossi or Lorenzo, you could very well be wrong.

Deliberate practice, it seems, matter much more, according to studies: to truly excel at something, requires 10 years of daily practice, totalling 10,000 hours.

 

In the posting Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything on the Harvard Business Review website (yes, probably the most unlikely place to look for motorcycle corner advice), blogger Tony Schwartz explains some of the recent studies on what generates excellent performance done in the business world.

He sums up the findings in the following six bullets:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. (hey, that's where CSS comes in, right)
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

So while innate talent ("genetic advantages") does matter, practising does indeed make perfect.

 

 

(note to the admins: the Cornering forum seemed the best suited area of this on/off topic posting. Move it to another forum as appropriate).

 

 

Kai

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I don't think that working hard is enough. For instance, somebody 150 cm small will never be the best heavyweight boxer or basket ball player, regardless of how much he practice. A person with a body type built for speed and power will never become olympic champion as a Marathon runner, and a person built for endurance will never become the strongest man in the world.

 

That said, it is very rarely that the most talented persons become the best in the world. My theory is that if a person achieve their goals as being the best easily from a young age, they will not be prepared to put in the work required to stay on top once the hard workers catches up. So they tend to quit.

If we look at the racing world, almost all dominant riders over the history started out very young. And rode a lot. That this isn't a must, though, can be seen in Max Biaggi, who first rode a motorcycle at the age of 18, and Troy Bayliss, who began racing at 21 if memory serves.

 

You still need a modicum of talent to excel, as Bullet said, and you need to put in a lot of work in order to extract the most of your talent if you want to become number one. Plus you'll need some luck as well in most sports, like a sponsor or avoiding injury or stumbling across the best trainer (for you) etc.

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If you think that the main difference between the motoGP demigods and the rest of us is the natural gift or talent of, say, Rossi or Lorenzo, you could very well be wrong.

Deliberate practice, it seems, matter much more, according to studies: to truly excel at something, requires 10 years of daily practice, totalling 10,000 hours.

 

In the posting Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything on the Harvard Business Review website (yes, probably the most unlikely place to look for motorcycle corner advice), blogger Tony Schwartz explains some of the recent studies on what generates excellent performance done in the business world.

He sums up the findings in the following six bullets:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. (hey, that's where CSS comes in, right)
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

So while innate talent ("genetic advantages") does matter, practising does indeed make perfect.

 

 

(note to the admins: the Cornering forum seemed the best suited area of this on/off topic posting. Move it to another forum as appropriate).

 

 

Kai

Kai, I agree. I just finished reading Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin, an editor at Fortune magazine a US based business magazine. (This book is listed as a reference at the end of the HBR article.) The gist of the book is similar; the author examines the history behind top performers in a variety of fields including music and sports, not just business. But the idea is the same, that it takes a lot of purposeful and focused practice, not just endless automatic repetition. I've had the good fortune of being able to work closely with a musician who is an international top-elite classical performer and have talked about all this, and she concurs that it takes a lot of practice, but also a desire from within that is compelling. Music practice generally isn't really fun, yet top performers do it because there's a deeper satisfaction. I think all this is generally applicable to any human behavior, whether playing and instrument, golf, or motorcycle riding.

 

It really is important then what CSS does- I think the instruction provides an amplification factor to progress that practicing with track days alone won't provide. You aren't going to make the progress without the coaching, and getting coaching without spending time on the track won't yield as much either. But put the two together, then you've getting somewhere.

 

As the riding season slows down for us northerners, I'd recommend reading the Colvin book mentioned above, it explains a lot.

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I think practice and determination is the deciding factor -BUT- as long as physical attributes coincide; otherwise, either circumvent, adapt or gain a hobby. It is, of course, the task that will ultimately determine the probable (and possible) level attainable.

 

Like Eirik said: I couldn't be a basketball or track star with my short chunky goodness. However, practice (and enjoyment) has provided me, at least, a moderate level of drumming prowess, which has been improved over the years from periodic 'training' and corrections - ie hand orientation, switching leading hand, etc.

 

That said, I'd wholeheartedly assert your commitment and never-ending pursuit is synonymous with the level you can achieve.

 

Natural talent can give you the upper hand, but only if you've practiced enough too either realize or use that ability.

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This is an interesting subject, and I totally agree with it! But what one person may lack is motivation, maybe that motivation loss comes from simply thinking they are not capable of achieving such high goals so they dont even bother to try! Something that amazed me was that Casey Stoner and Leon Camier Cycle for winter training, and while doing it they enter cycle races to keep motivated, the amazing thing is that they are racing with the front runners for the win, then look at Dovitzioso, he got to an age where major Italian football (soccer) clubs were trying to sign him and he had to make the choice football or motorcycle racing, he chose racing but the point is he was always going to be a sportsman and that was from a poor family without any financial backing, motivation!

One thing from reading Lorenzo's book that sort of relates to your subject is when he won his 2nd 250 world championship he said that he didn't think that he was world champion because he is the best but rather that he has worked the hardest to achieve it!

 

Bobby

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I think practice and such will take you to your highest level, but not neccessarily equal to the demigods of MotoGp. It would be fair to say that each individual is driven by his own levels of drive, determination and passion. Another individual attribute is how each person learns and understands things.

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Like Eirik said: I couldn't be a basketball or track star with my short chunky goodness.

Hey, careful with that statement! John Paxson wasn't particularly tall for a pro basket player (6'2"), and he still sunk that 3-pointer that decided the championship for the Chicago Bulls in 92-93 over Phoenix Suns (the third title in a row). I've played and seen plenty of "short" point guards make well use of their speed and agility to out-manoeuvre 6'6" centers like myself. At the club I played in 20 years ago, the women's teams had a point guard who was maybe 5"4', and she was consistently the highest scoring player on the team. But you have a point of course :)

 

At the end, my point was more to highlight the learnings condensed in the 6 bullets formed by Schwartz: If you love something, and really put your heart and mind to it, you can push your expertise and proficiency to a very very high level. But as you become more and more skilled, having a coach to help you with perfecting the technical skill to get to the last X percent is very helpful. You need that outside eye that tells you "nope, that's not what you did. This is what you did".

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Interesting subject, and I'd come across the book metioned (TALENT IS OVERRATED).

 

I recall seeing some years ago (doing this from memory) Doug Chandler commenting on Wayne Rainey. It was something to the effect of he didn't know if Wayne was the most raw talented rider, but he NEVER gave up.

 

CF

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Even if you have all six of those qualities or elements, it won't make one bit of difference if you don't do the basics well. If you can't do the basics on demand, or you don't know what the basics are, then working hard, practicing intensely and all that is meaningless. I think the better question is:

 

What are the ESSENTIALS of riding a motorcycle?

 


  •  
  • Seeing? Can you get through a corner with your eyes closed? Not really. Do you have to see your way through EVERY corner? Yes. I suspect seeing is essential.
  • Throttle control? Can you get through a corner with bad throttle control? Well, yeah. Odds are that's how we all used to ride and it works kind-a okay. You can also break the throttle rule in the sense of slowing down through corner four to optimize speed in corner five. Is throttle control an essential? I'm not sure. Maybe throttle discipline is essential.
  • Fast, accurate, steering? It doesn't "always" have to be fast (for example, you don't need to dive into a big sweeper)--so maybe "appropriate" steering is more accurate. I think it always has to be accurate and that means seeing and being relaxed on the bars.

 

Let me give you an example of the essentials for shooting a pistol well. People blab on about grip and stance and gear, but in every situation from big game hunting, to target competition, to self defense, you MUST do three ESSENTIAL things if you want to hit your target. 1) Find the target, 2) Put the gun on the target, 3) Leave the gun on the target while you fire the shot. Always, always, always. If, in competition, you relax and focus on these essentials, you will be instantly faster and more accurate.

 

So, what are the ESSENTIALS that you always, always, always do when riding? Road race, drag race, country road, commuting or touring--what must we always do? When we relax and concentrate on these essentials, we'll all have the tools to ride better and faster.

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the best teacher ???????????

just an interesting side note to this topic based on personal experience (bikes and other life experiences)

you could argue that surely the best at a discipline would be the best to teach their knowledge to another . i agree in most cases .

but sometimes in the case of the naturally gifted ( rider boxer , whatever ) they have such a natural ability for their chosen discipline that they no longer think about how they actually do each set of functions or miss some out when relaying it to others as it no longer takes much mental application for them to do it because theyr,e so good at it and at such a high level .

so theyre taking for granted that the student is already doing / understanding things that they are not .

 

example 2 you can have somebody who is a professional in their field without all of the trophys or awards . but if they know the subject matter well and passionate and have had to learn themselves from scractch and can relay info well to a student and communicate well sometimes you can get better results .

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I believe in practice and adaptation. And this leads to the last and 4th stage of competence in psychology.

 

The Four Stages (from

  1. Unconscious Incompetence The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it.
  2. Conscious Incompetence Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it.
  3. Conscious Competence The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration.
  4. Unconscious Competence The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes "second nature" and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

So when we are at the 4th stage, our brain will have enough process power to deal with dynamics changes as we are riding. Because it is not busy with how to do.. (like pianist playing piano)

 

Maybe the talent is how quick we train ourselves, or how quick or brain learns, adapts etc.

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