I noted an interesting report lately about an observation that was made of championship Canadian youth hockey teams. It seems that there was an identifiable pattern to the birth months of almost every top player on the teams. How could Canadian babies born in the first few months of the year be the best hockey players ? Some cosmic planet alignment, does watching hockey on TV effect your baby, newborns first sight of winter make them natural hockey players ?? As I turns out, the children born in the first few months of a year are the oldest in their class in school. So ? Well, a child who is almost a year older than another child is 20% older in kindergarten. That child is generally more developed mentally and physically; taller, quicker, faster, more coordinated. Who do you think tends to be a better performer in the classroom and in the playground ?
This early experience of achievement or underachievement as compared to their peers sets a correspondingly strong early pattern of encouragement or discouragement in the minds of these children. These children tend to grow up with well seated expectations of success and failure in their lives. And here we have the championship hockey youth with almost exclusively early birth months.
This so called “Matthew Effect” which almost seems to be a self fulfilling prophesy points up the important nature of our expectations of ourselves. It is important to limit our failures, since our success expectation is confused with a failure and becomes less dominant in our thinking. Knowing about and understanding the power of our engrained expectations is an important factor in our success.
Another equally interesting observation was the “10,000 Hour Effect”. Studies of world class performers in many different vocations; art, music, designers, medical fields, pilots, racecar drivers, etc. all needed at least 10,000 hours of practice to achieve world class results. Wow ! However without talent, 10,000 hours did not guarantee high performance. So it seems that Achievement = Talent + Practice. Lots of practice. The closer we look, the bigger the role of practice plays in achievement. Studies show that elite performers prepare 2-3 times as much as other in their field. How much to you really devote to preparation in your field ? Are you ‘good enough’ and content ? .Or do you strive for a world class status in your field ?
We all can do a better job if we maintain high expectations of success and follow it up with the level of preparation necessary to achieve it.