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Creativeness by Experimentation: Peak Performance & Worldly Wisdom

How much do your genetics and your (cultural/social) background control your destiny?

The answer is ‘A lot!’… but things aren’t hopeless..

The below is based on an example I encountered in Atomic Habits, and it made me think about how experimentation and peak performance are related.

But first .. which is the better strategy:

“Go with the flow” , or “Put in the blood, sweat, and tears” ?

Two (Very Different) Peak Performers

Michael Phelps (1.93 m) is 18cm taller than Hicham el Guerrouj (1.75 m). Still, they wear the same length of pants!

How? One has unusually long, the other has unusually short legs.

Experimentation and Peak Performance : Sports

They are both champions and multiple-gold medal winners at the Olympic games.

Both are uniquely equipped to dominate a sport: Peak performance in swimming benefits from a strong upper body and small legs, while a Marathon needs a light body with long legs.

Your Background & Your Destiny

Genetics make a great difference here, and they do so in all walks of life!

Genetics (and other things you can’t – easily – control about yourself, like your culture or the family you were born into), however, don’t determine your destiny.

Well, Hicham’s (& Michael’s) bodies were their key to greatness. Particularly what’s unique about them.

Still, without countless hours of training, their victories wouldn’t have been possible.

Hard work, sheer discipline, and determination are ‘hygiene’ conditions for peak performance. They might not be enough… but they are indispensable.

This is why you shouldn’t think of your background (genetic, social, cultural) as the controller of your destiny… Instead, It would be much smarter if you think about them as being able to determine your area of maximum opportunity…

Excellent outcomes are the results of selecting *your* best area, and doing enough hard work in it.

Experimentation, Peak Performance, Creativeness

How do you find these areas of maximum opportunity? This is quite challenging, and it is riddled with so much hesitation, risk, and opportunity costs.

We don’t all have unusually long or short legs – the answers aren’t always that clear.

There is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty here… and so the answer is: try more.

Try more first, Try harder next.

You need to keep exploring, and trying, and failing. You need to get an appreciation for what feels easy (easier) and what feels good.. and seek the advice of those more experienced.

Some things will feel hard, but they will be fun to do. They will seem to ‘just make sense’, and reflect ‘who you are’ (which is tricky and always evolving, by the way).

You need to accumulate experiences and achievements, and always build on them.

This is one of the key components of worldly wisdom.

Explore… Venture into the unknown… and then fight when things feel right. When you’re in your own field, shape your excellence with unwavering discipline.

Worldly Wisdom : Discipline + Exploration / Experimentation + Reflection
Explore… then Fight

So back to the initial question on the best strategy:

“Go with the flow” , or “Put in the blood, sweat, and tears” ?

The answer is typically… Put in the blood, sweat, and tears, while going with the flow!

More Resources

The Atlas of Worldly Wisdom is an online course on seeking peak performance and finding our great work. It is an integration of many models and super ideas on success and personal growth, and it has discussions on utilizing knowledge, good plans, and disciplined work towards those goals.

(References for the above story: Atomic Habits & National Geographic https://nationalgeographic.com/science/article/olympic-gold-good-genes )

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