Grit – perseverance – and deliberate practice…

I love this inspiring example of perseverance and “deliberate practice” (that stretches you beyond your current level).  I first read about Shizuka Arakawa in Geoff Colvin’s book: “Talent Is Overrated”:

A study of figure skaters found that sub-elite skaters spent lots of time working on the jumps they could already do, while skaters at the highest levels spent more time on the jumps they couldn’t do, the kind that ultimately win Olympic medals and involved lots of falling down before they’re mastered….Landing on your butt 20,000 times is where great performance comes from.

Shizuka Arakawa won gold at 24 – she had been training as a skater since age five.  Winning the gold requires flawless performance of moves that the rest of us would consider simply impossible. Arakawa’s specialty was something called a layback Ina Bauer – bending backward almost double with the feet pointing in opposite directions–leading into a three-jump combination. Perfecting such moves requires huge quantities of practice, and falling down during much of it. For Arakawa it took nineteen years….[and] at least twenty thousand derriere impacts on an unforgiving surface.

We can all applaud the dedication of Shizuka Arakawa – yet her example should make all of use reconsider what we are capable of.


Here’s a couple of links to give you more information:

Explanation of the special Ina Bauer move:

Shizuka Arakawa’s 2006 Olympic performance:

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