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Beating the Odds

How to Get Good at Whatever You Do

How would you like to get better at whatever you do? It’s simple. Just take a trip in your imagination to Red Wing, Minn., where the first North American ski jumping exhibition took place 125 years ago today.

Ski jumping came to North American with immigrants from Norway, and it took hold in Minnesota for a very good reason: There is lots of snow there. And it came from Norway for the same good reason: there is lots of snow there.

What does this have to do with you? Everything. If you want to get good at something, you have to be able to practice it. A lot. That’s why ski jumpers come from Minnesota, and baseball players come from Florida, California and the Caribbean.

In fact, the Caribbean Series, which takes place in the winter, just before the start of spring training, just finished. The Dominican Republic won. There were no teams from Minnesota involved, and there were no ski jumping competitions, either.

John Williams, known as “America’s composer,” was surrounded by music from birth, which came 80 years ago today. He was the son of a percussionist for CBS Radio and the Raymond Scott Quintet.

If you want to become a musician, go where the music is. If you want to be a good baseball player, you must find weather that will allow you to play baseball a lot. If you want to be a ski jumper, you better have access to snow and a hill.

This sounds so simple, but a lot of people think that high performance comes from something else, namely, innate talent. They believe that certain people were born with the ability to do certain things well. Well, which idea makes more sense, that lots of people with ski jumping talent happened to be born in Red Wing, or that the snow in Red Wing allowed people to acquire skill?

To get good at anything, find conditions that will let you practice a lot. If you would like to be a world-class juggler, then juggle everything and everywhere. If you want to become a public speaker, then speak to as many audiences as you can.

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TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836. To order a copy of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know,” click here.


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