Well-apparently we all do, if we want to achieve our goals and live our best life.

Recently in ESPN The Magazine, NFL Draft 2011 was the cover story. In this issue was an article by Jonah Lehrer which opened with the following: “Top NFL quarterbacks don’t need smarts. They need instincts-the kind that comes with lots of practice.” Mr. Lehrer pointed out that the NFL started using the Wonderlic intelligence test in the early 1970’s to evaluate potential NFL players, and the NFL continues to use it at the annual scouting combine held in Indianapolis. While Worderlic scores are considered an important factor in QBs draft selection, a recent study by economists David Berri and Rob Simmons found the scores to be useless in predicting performance. The Wonderlic measures analytical intelligence, but even the best QBs can’t use those thought patterns during a typical pass play when they have to make a decision in 3-4 seconds. ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck says “To be good at the (QB) position, you’ve got to know the answer before you even understand the question.” The only way they are able to make those decisions is based upon their Emotional IQ.

Scientists have discovered that emotions can reflect a tremendous amount of information processing and can be in response to things we are not aware of on a conscious level. The article states that the best way for QBs (and the rest of us) to develop a more effective emotional brain is through practice. K. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist at Florida State who studies expertise, states “…expertise requires huge amounts of effort and practice.” According to the article, Ericsson is known for his calculation that true expertise requires about 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice is not fun-it’s a disciplined attempt to improve specific skills. The article goes on to talk about how Ericsson’s studies of “deliberate practice” led him to collaborate with Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, known for her work on “grit”, or what we refer to in our life coaching programs as “persistence”. Their combined research has demonstrated that “grit” allows individuals to become experts by putting in the hours of deliberate practice and these hours (remember 10,000) allow you to take advantage of your full potential. The conclusion of the article is that the most important type of talent, your Emotional IQ, depends upon sustained performance; i.e., your ability to engage in hours and hours of deliberate practice. As I finished this article, I was amazed at the similarities between the findings outlined by Jonah Lehrer and many of the techniques we utilize in our life coaching programs (www.championsofpowerfulliving.com).

Then, understanding that deliberate practice is one of the most important keys to achieving success in any endeavor, how do we get the results we desire? In our life coaching programs we emphasize the need to change or break your existing patterns of behavior in order to develop better habits and ultimately accomplish your goals. At the very least, I think most of us can agree that emotions do at least influence our thoughts, actions, and subsequent behaviors. Every emotion we have has a chemical associated with it that is absorbed by the nerve cells in our body. Emotions help evaluate a situation quickly (by finding the associated memory) and send the chemicals (hormones) off to the body for action. These emotions contribute to predictable patterns which become hardwired into our brain. So it seems that you must first develop your Emotional IQ, then behaviors and habits on your way to expertise and achieving your desired goals.

In our life coaching programs we discuss the importance of practice, determination, and persistence in the pursuit of living your best life. As you progress through the 7-step process of our coaching program and consistently model your desired behavior, you will utilize the technique we have all been exposed to our entire lives and the dominant theme of the article in ESPN, The Magazine. I am talking about PRACTICE. PRACTICE-repetition makes the master. Everything you have ever learned has been learned through repetition. You need to consistently practice and model your new desired behaviors until they become second nature. You will break your old patterns of behavior and demonstrate your new behavior through concentrated repetition and practice.

In addition to the article in ESPN, The Magazine, here are a couple of additional sports examples to illustrate the importance of this technique. My sons and I went to an NFL training camp one year and watched one of the offensive linemen practice his footwork for a block on an extra point attempt hundreds of times. Even I was amazed at the time and effort (at least 150 repetitions) this NFL pro put into his practice routine for one of the most simple (basically 2 steps) blocks he would need to perform. I have seen tennis pros practice the same shot 200-250 times in a row in practice sessions. The workout routines for Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, James Harrison and Kobe Bryant are legendary for their intensity. If these professionals and others at the top of their respective fields understand the necessity and value of practice, it would appear that all of us can learn through their examples.

For you to succeed, you need to have the desire to achieve something better; to improve some aspect of your life. In our life coaching programs, we show you how to make positive changes to your life, but ultimately the power to make these changes will come from within you. In addition to desire, you will need commitment, persistence, and determination. So keep practicing and modeling your desired behaviors and through this repetitive process you will begin to develop better habits on your way to accomplishing your goals. If it is good enough for the best NFL QBs and other successful individuals, then I’m sure you will agree that all of us can benefit from practice, practice, and more practice.

Author's Bio: 

Rick Lane has over 30 years of corporate Human Resources experience, including 8 years as the Vice-President of Human Resources. He has successfully coached and consulted with individuals at every level on a variety of professional and personal issues. He is known as a confident leader with the ability to build strong and effective teams. Rick has a very practical, results-driven approach and is an excellent troubleshooter with the ability to solve problems, identify opportunities and relate to people at all levels. While Rick’s underlying passion is to help other people be successful, his #1 priority is his family. He also enjoys working out and is an avid NFL fan. Rick and his wife Kara created Champions of Powerful Living to help people live their best life and realize their full potential. If you're looking for guidance to help you achieve your personal goals, visit http://championsofpowerfulliving.com/