Motivation: Does Hard Work Beat Talent? - Sports Involve

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Motivation: Does Hard Work Beat Talent?

We all have those days when we just don’t want to do it. ‘It’ could be anything; walking the dog, cleaning the house, or exercising are but a few that spring to mind. Due to the ongoing pandemic and multiple lockdowns, many of us have found it difficult to motivate ourselves to do even the simplest of things that came natural to us pre-COVID.


But where does this motivation come from? Is it nature, nurture or habit?


Some scientists have suggested that motivation is embedded in our DNA. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience discovered that individuals with higher levels of Dopamine were more likely to work for things, while those with lower levels less likely.


This isn’t to say that those who are biologically predisposed to be less motivated to complete a task shouldn’t try. This is just one study, and there are many more that have conflicting arguments and different conclusions.


Hard work beats talent?


For example, American psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth conducted a long term study to find out why students with a lower IQ performed better than those with a higher IQ. Speaking of the findings in her TED Talk, she states that “one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”


Duckworth then goes on to define the term “grit” as follows:


“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”


Fixed vs. Growth Mindset


Similarly, Carol Dweck expands upon this subject further by suggesting that a person who has a “fixed mindset” is more likely to fail in their task. Whereas someone with a “growth mindset” understands that to achieve their goal is a process. Therefore, instead of thinking “now”, it is better to think “not yet”.


“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King


David Goggins, reportedly the toughest man alive, was the first person to complete SEAL training, US Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. In his mid-40s he completed over 60 marathons, triathlons, ultra-marathon, and ultra-triathlons. But how? Does he have a genetic advantage over the average person?


He states that his mindset is 100% responsible for his success.


When Goggins applied to be a SEAL, he was told that his 300lb frame was too heavy to apply. Shockingly, he returned 2 months later, 100lbs lighter and successfully made it through. 5 years later he also was diagnosed with a congenital birth defect known as atrial septal defect (ASD), that left him with a hole in his heart.


So how does he keep his strong mindset?


In his autobiography ‘Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds’, he says:


“Remembering what you’ve been through and how that has strengthened your mindset can lift you out of a negative brain loop and help you bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in.”


So perhaps hard work is more important than genetics? There is more evidence to suggest that although some of us are genetically predisposed to be more motivated, those who are not can develop a ‘growth mindset’ with hard work.


Essentially, when it comes to things such as exercise, practice makes perfect. Most of the time how we perceive something, dictates how we feel about it. Negative thoughts and emotions about a perceived failure can inhibit our ability to try again, so don’t fixate on this if you didn’t get the outcome you wanted. Just think of it as a learning experience, not a failure. Believe that you can and keep at it.


Whether you need motivation in your work or home, these ways of thinking can be applied to all aspects of your life. Here at Sports Involve, we apply these to our work out sessions, making sure to remember that every session is a process to a desired outcome. Slow and steady wins the race.

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