Instincts in the animal world are characteristics that are programmed through heredity to perform a particular behavior. For instance, ants and bees do not have to learn to be workers in their respective colonies - they just become workers at birth by instinct. Likewise the African Wildebeest runs with the pack just minutes after its birth to protect itself from being eaten by lions or tigers. These are all examples known as instinctive behaviors.
According to scientists, instincts are not learned behaviors. Yet we often hear people say that a quarterback in football has developed great instincts to read a defense and call the proper play. Performers who have developed the highest skill levels in magic, music or in the circus are said to have developed incredible instincts. In this week's lesson, we will investigate whether I believe it's possible, through continued repetition and unending perseverance to actually develop tremendous skill levels into instinctive behaviors.
First let's take a look back in history at John Wooden, a head basketball coach at UCLA who broke a record that may never be repeated. His teams won 10 NCAA titles out of his last 12 years of coaching. Now I believe that he developed an ability to attract and then instinctively train young people to be the best basketball players imaginable. He developed his players to move instinctively as a team unit on the court. He studied the strengths and weaknesses of each individual player and worked on developing their skills to levels way beyond their own dreams.
Imagine how great our business or family unit could be if we invested the time and energy into developing our employees or family member's instincts to succeed. It would be wonderful if we could motivate people to practice their talents and hone their skills so that they become the absolute BEST in their fields of endeavor.
In order to develop instincts, I believe you need to PRACTICE your skills INTENSIVELY; and not just a half-hour a day, or when time permits around your social schedule. Constant repetition and consistent improvement of a skill can move you to the top of your game.
Next, let's take a look at one of the top golfers in the world, Vijay Singh. Vijay is known in the PGA as "the golfer who practices the most." If you ever watch a golf tournament in which Vijay is a participant, you'll oftentimes notice that after he plays his round in the tournament, he'll go back to the driving range to practice. While the other players have gone home exhausted from their round of play, Vijay stays and practices.
On a normal day, Vijay will hit 1,500 golf balls, eat a sandwich, and then hit 1,500 more. Now, in order to appreciate this, go over to your local driving range and hit 100 golf balls. Take notice of how long it takes you and how you feel afterwards. Then multiply that by 30. It may be hard for you to believe, but that's how Vijay practices. As a result, Vijay has developed acute instincts in the game of golf. He hits amazing shots from all areas of the golf course. And thus far in 2007, he is ranked #3 in the world in winnings with over $4.7 million earned so far this year. That's a nice payoff for his hours of practice and devotion.
Next let's look at Emeril Lagasse, the celebrated chef who cooks up the best dishes on TV. After the tens of thousands of tasty meals he has produced during his lifetime, would you say he has developed incredible instincts for food preparation? He could probably prepare scores of tasty meals with his eyes closed. Yet it's safe to say that he wasn't born with a talent to cook. Emerald developed his interest to cook and through sheer repetition, as he developed incredible talents and instincts.
One of my passions in life is to study the lives of individuals who have reached a pinnacle of in their fields of endeavor. I am always interested in how they achieved their tremendous skill levels. It always seems to come back to intensive practice and the desire to consistently improve. Practice without improvement doesn't make the grade. Then once these individuals achieve the highest level of proficiency, it appears that their actions become quite instinctive to the individuals who watch them perform.
If you want have the desire to be at the top of your game, you must practice, practice, practice. You must love what you do; perform with passion; and constantly improve. Then and only then will you have a shot at developing acute instincts for your craft.