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The GIFT of Average Genetics

Most people envy those with freakish genetics, and it can be hard not to.  However, being born with world class genetics ends up being a curse that they are never aware of and not a gift.  Once you’ve been in, or an observer of, a sport for some time this may become more evident.   It’s true that to be truly world class in a sport such as Michael Phelps or Bill Kazmaier you will never reach that by hard work alone.  It simply won’t happen without having the genetic potential to achieve that.

So what exactly is the gift of average genetics?  The gift is you always have to work for every inch of progress you have made.  You learned early on about incremental gains and hard work.  From the first time in the gym or on the sporting field you had to work, sweat, bleed, and then do it all again just to make some measly progress.  The same progress that some gifted natural athlete had just walking on the field.  These small gains however are consistent and build upon each other.  This is a basic psychological system that rewards your hard work, sweat, and blood.  With this reward mechanism you stay at it year after year. 

When you reach stalling points you are not deterred, you know that time and work will keep you moving forward.  When you injure yourself you know that to get back isn’t going to be an overnight journey to get back.  It may be years, but this doesn’t bother you.  You have built the psychological support of maintaining the focus during that time as well as the mental discipline to follow through.  It is these import psychological factors and discipline that create the majority of the athletes that fill much of the professional ranks.  They have worked hard for many years and stay the course with consistent training to stay in the game.  They may not be the best in the world, but they are at the top of their game and stay there for a long time. 

The gifted athlete knows nothing of incremental gains.  As they grow up they succeed at every sporting activity they try and are better than nearly everyone on the field with little to no effort.  Work effort and discipline are not reinforced.  They show up and ‘play around’ and everyone says they are the best.  After doing any activity a few times they see huge gains.  If they do not have the internal discipline born or raised into them via other methods they have nothing that develops it.  When they eventually reach that plateau or injury it is devastating.  This is when that talent becomes a curse.  Having never had to ‘work’ or progress out of a long injury they are suddenly spending time at a suboptimal level or at a stalling point. Something they simply are not prepared for.

Personally I’ve seen so many people enter strength sports and in their first couple years be billed as the next great.  “How can they not be?”, people ask.  “Look at their age and the weights they are moving.”, they point out as evidence.  And then mysteriously they disappear.   They got to the point of hard work or an injury and disappeared to live the rest of their life as has-beens.  This is why the majority of the top people in a sport did not come in with an amazing level of strength or talent.  What they did is train for 10-15 years getting increment gains.  Sure, the top 1% of the sport have that rare talent of being genetically gifted and having incredible work ethic and discipline. But the majority of your top athletes started out no different than you or me.

The gift of average genetics is a long healthy career of training and not becoming a has-been telling stories of you early career success.  You get to maintain doing the sport that you love through the entirety of your life.  I would much rather have this as my reality than be a has-been.  Vision, Consistency, and Hardwork…LIVE IT!!!    

Posted by Chris Duffin at 1/28/2012 6:24 PM spacer
Categories: Motivation

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  • 1/28/2012 7:51 PM Kameron wrote:
    AWESOME post Chris. I can really relate because nothing as really came easy for me. Very motivational!
    Reply to this
  • 1/29/2012 5:28 PM Rudy Kadlub wrote:
    As a former college football coach, nothing irritated me more than to have a gifted athlete so use to success that he had no idea how to work hard enough to be the best that he could be. As a result I saw a number of genetically gifted athletes who never made the starting team because they took their gift for granted.
    Don't ever take success for granted!!!
    Reply to this
    1. 1/31/2012 11:39 AM Chris Duffin wrote:
      Thanks for providing this background.  This is exactly what I was refering to.
      Reply to this
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