Thursday, November 1, 2007

Overachievement by John Eliot, Ph.D.

Here's another book I happened to find one day in a book store. Overachievement, by John Eliot, Ph.D. is a delightful break from the usual sport psychology mumbo-jumbo that feeds you mental rehearsal and relaxation scripts.

This excerpt from the introduction sums up the content of the book. If you find it interesting, you should pick up a copy. It is a very easy and informative read.

Using your head is stupid. In high-stakes performance, the real genius is someone like Yogi Berra. On his way to ten World Series rings and a place in the baseball Hall of Fame, Yogi was thinking about nothing.

The best embrace stress - and get juiced. Classic breathing and relaxation techniques tend to undermine most performances, eliminating the possibility of setting records. Stress is the high-level performer's PowerBar.

There are no limits. If you really want to find out what you're capable of, you cannot put limits on yourself, and you defininately cannot be cautious.

Setting goals is for couch potatoes. The long-standing practice of goal setting is actually a major obstacle to sustained, vigorous motivation - and to being great.

Hard work is overrated. Superstars know when to stop working at their job and start playing at it. In my research and work with clients, I have discovered that too much practice will turn you into a classic case of the "over-motivated underachiever."

All those eggs belong in one basket. Unlikely accomplishments are borned out of single-minded purposefulness. Future superstars don't get there by keeping part of heart in reserve.

Arrogant S.O.B.s run the world. A performer can never have too much self-assurance. The best in every field are likely to strike most people as irrationally confident, but that's how they got to the top.

Being a team player may get you a gold star on your annual review, but it won't get you into the corner office. By definition, striving to be exceptional puts you outside the team. If you're a maverick CEO, you're a colorful genius. But, if you're a young rogue exec, you're gone. ("Not a team player," reads your evaluation.) The best performers not only think exceptionally, they teach their colleagues to think differently, too.

Legends never say they're sorry. Having a long or frequent memory for mistakes and a short or infrequent memory for successes is a guaranteed way to develop fear of failure. High achievers dwell on what they do well and spend very little time evaluating themselves and their performances.

Risk-reward analysis is for wimps. For exceptional people, risks equal rewards. The challenge of uncertainty is the fun of high performance and where overachievement lies.

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