In his best selling book "The Talent Code", author Daniel Coyle presents a three-part formula for how all of the world's talent hotbeds consistently produce top performers.
1) Developing elite talent requires deep practice
2) Deep practice requires vast amounts of energy
3). It takes a primal cue to ignite a sufficient amount of energy
We went into detail regarding the deep practice aspect of this formula in a recent blog post, and will not do so again here (CLICK HERE to access that article on our website)
Coyle's vast research shows that to stay motivated long enough to put in the endless hours of deep practice necessary for excellence, a spark must first be lit.
This is what he calls the ignition stage.
Here is where something lights a fire inside of someone that burns so deeply it sustains incredible effort for years.
I'm sure as a parent or coach you'd love to know what might provide that spark, right?
(Warning: Coyle found no way to spark kids to clean up after themselves more often, or to get school work done without procrastination. Sorry.)
Here are some of the big ways talent hotbeds around the world ignite a mindset of excellence in their next generation of potential superstars.
"If THEY can do it..."
When a new talent hotbed emerges it often begins with one person rising to prominence and doing something magical.
That person, of course, has to be someone that other kids can look at and say "I'm a lot like them! If they can do it, why can't I?"
Some popular examples include:
- Pele's World Cup performance in the 1950's, leading to a rise of soccer dominance in Brazil
- Si Re Pak creating a wave of elite golfers from South Korea
- Andruw Jones starring in the World Series, prompting an explosion of talent on the tiny island of Curacao
- Anna Kournikova exploding onto the tennis scene, starting a run of Top 100 tennis players from Russia
- Bobby Orr's magical brand of hockey sparking a huge surge of hockey participation and talent emerging in New England.
Sometimes all it takes is one person who makes the dreams of so many others seem a lot more possible. This confidence makes it easier for others to push hard and put in the countless hours needed to be great.
Being A Younger Sibling
Did you know that almost all of the world's fastest sprinters have 3 or more older siblings?
Or that all 10 of the leading rushers in NFL history had at least 2 older brothers and sisters?
Having to constantly work to live up to the standards of an older sibling when growing up, without the physical development advantages the older ones have, can fuel a deep desire to push your limits.
And once that spark is lit, it can burn far beyond the times when the younger one has surpassed the older ones.
The most famous example of this is Michael Jordan, whose older brother Larry would dominate him in sports growing up. Michael, of course, used this near-daily humiliation of defeat to rise to the very top of his sport.
Creating A Culture
Of course players like Pele and Bobby Orr are long since retired, yet soccer players continue to thrive in Brazil and hockey players do the same in our area.
How is that so?
Because of the culture that towns, schools, and coaches create.
The best example I can provide is the way Coach Steve Jacobs and Athletic Director Wayne Sanborn built up the hockey program at Cushing Academy through the 1980's and 90's.
My first days inside the hockey rink were in the summer of 2000, and the culture of excellence was obvious from the minute I walked in the door.
Pictures of dozens of former players playing at elite levels.
A top notch facility.
Framed pictures of championship teams and trophy cases with rings and other honors were hard to miss.
They forged the first wave of excellence through their program development, and then built on it by creating an expectation of top performance for many years to come.
Lots of schools do the same thing to ignite future success, but to do so there must be a coach who not only connects the past to the present, but creates a championship atmosphere too.
Deep practice requires focus, commitment, effort, and perseverance. Any deviation in that approach and talent isn't developed to its potential.
This is where a coach can ignite a new talent hotbed. There are endless examples of legendary high school coaches who were handed similar talents as the town next to them had, but they molded their kids into champions year after year.
There is a prevailing myth that the world's greatest athletes were born to be that way, but Daniel Coyle traveled the world and found no such evidence.
What he did find was the formula for developing true excellence:
Sustain that drive for a long time
Work the right way
It seems so simple, but how often is that truly followed?