How many of you would pass up the chance to get advice from your favorite sports hero or business mogul? I’m guessing not many of you would. We all think exceptional performers in any given field have some sort of special knowledge that could be just what we need to help us release our specialness and reach our dreams. The problem is that because of the way our brains work, most high achiever’s advice is second rate.
People are convinced they know what got them where they are, but the fact of the matter is, that they created the reasons they are sharing with you, after the fact. The way our brain works is that it comes up with explanations that justify conclusions, not the other way around. So while these high-achievers honestly believe the things they are telling you are the secrets to their success, more often than not, the nuggets they are sharing with you were of much less consequence than they believe.
Imagine a baseball that has a human brain inside of it that has just come off of baseball player’s bat traveling on its way to a home run, when suddenly in mid-flight it gains consciousness. The baseball does not know that the player’s bat is what is propelling it up into the sky, so the baseball’s brain tells it that it has decided to fly. The reason it does this is because it appears to be the most plausible explanation to the brain. This is exactly how our brain comes up with explanations for our successes.
I like to use the example of what Ted Williams, one of the greatest baseball hitters of all-time, said when he was asked how he hit the ball so well? “I could see the ball so clearly when it came towards me that I could see the stitching on the ball turning.” For years people marveled at this ability and tried to duplicate it. The only problem was that it is not humanely possible to do.
Years after William’s career ended technology caught up and proved that the human eye did not have this capability at the speeds of major league pitching. When told this William’s simply replied, “Well I thought I could.” His brain had played the same trick on him that I described earlier that it plays on everyone without our awareness or consent.
This is not to say that high achievers do not have anything of value to share with the rest of us, most do. It’s just a caveat not to put too much stake in what they say, like most people automatically do. If you want to glean the most useful information they have, you will need to dig deeper, because their perception more often than not, does not reflect reality.
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