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Beating the Odds

Are You Great?

Spring has brought the usual array of new baseball books, and one of them should catch the eye of coaches everywhere.

It’s called “The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong,” by David Shenk.

The content shouldn’t come as any surprise if you’ve read books like “The Talent Code,” “Outliers” and “Talent Is Overrated.” However, it does contain this one gem of a sentence: “Greatness was not a thing to Ted Williams; it was a process.”

Ted Williams truly was a great among greats. He was a Hall of Fame baseball player who aspired to be the greatest hitter who ever lived, and some people believe he achieved that goal. But this book is not about Williams. You can substitute any name for his, and the meaning remains.

“Greatness was not a thing to Thomas Edison; it was a process.”
“Greatness was not a thing to the Wright brothers; it was a process.”
“Greatness was not a thing to Abraham Lincoln; it was a process.”

You get the idea. Shenk’s point is that greatness is not something that people either do or don’t have. It’s something that they can develop. And that means that anyone can achieve greatness.

Greatness doesn’t come from natural talent; it comes from unnatural focus and effort. Shenk, for instance, says Williams would practice until his hands bled.

Same way with the great shooters you will see in this month’s NCAA Tournament. That skill didn’t come from innate talent; it came from hours in the gym.

Not everyone will practice the way Williams did. But, as Shenk says, everyone can.


One comment for “Are You Great?”

  1. This is a great piece coach. I have read Outliers and am a believer of the 10,000 hour rule. When i went to college i thought most of the students were generally intelligent. The ones who separated themselves from the others were the ones who “chose” to separate themselves from the pack. Its not always easy to figure it out, but in most cases people can figure out the route to their personal success or goals. A Favorite song lyric of mine…”Courageous convictions will drag your dreams into existence”..There is a lot to that quote!

    Posted by charlie | March 13, 2010, 4:01 pm

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