Training to Dunk

How many people do you know who are 5’5″ and can dunk?

Brandon Todd is 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball. At that height, you need a 42+ inches vertical leap to have a chance of putting the ball in the hoop. This is pretty insane. Todd trained for three years, putting on 85 lbs of muscle to gain the power needed to dunk.

I was enthralled by the short film on Todd I found

In it he says:

I used to look like I wasn’t even on the [basketball] team. 5’5″ 117 lbs. I didn’t want people to count me out because my height. I was reading an article about russian

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Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect

The neuroscience of deliberate practice

This originally appeared on the Buffer blog and was syndicated to Lifehacker. Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Growing up, we all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” from our high school coach/music teacher. Then Malcolm Gladwell went on to popularize the research that expertise developed over “10,000 hours” of deliberate practice. But how does that really work?

In this post, I’ll share what science knows about learning and how special type of brain tissue called myelin, plays a key role in helping us acquire and master skills.

Learning Rewires Our Brains

When we learn a new skill, whether it’s … Read the rest

Book Notes: Smart Choices

A Practical Guide to Making Better Life Decisions
Smart Choices a practical guide to making better life decisions cover

Note: this is an extensive set of book notes, clocking in at 1800 words. It’s a more weighty and dense post but (I think) worth the ~9 minutes to read it.

I recently read and finished taking notes on a book called: Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Life Decisions (4.5 stars, 63 reviews on Amazon, affiliate link)

Making good decisions and executing well on those decisions are basically the only things that matter in life. I recently shared my book notes on Good Strategy / Bad Strategy, which explains how organizations can develop better strategies. This … Read the rest

Step Up and Deliver

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure

Photo: Erin Costa

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

Gymnastics is a sport about delivering under pressure. Even though you can make it a team sport by aggregating scores and swapping out players, there is actually not interaction between your teammates outside of them cheering for you and helping you prepare for your performance, or even between you and your competition.

When you raise your hand and salute before your routine, it is all on you.

There is usually nothing else for the … Read the rest

How to be Relentlessly Resourceful

A practical guide for would-be founders

Relentlessly resourceful.

This is the essential quality of a good startup founder according to Paul Graham, cofounder of Y Combinator. When asked by Forbes what he looks for in founders, four out of the five elements relate to resourcefulness. He’s written two essays (Relentlessly Resourceful & A Word to the Resourceful) dedicated to the concept.

And yet people don’t seem to really understand what being resourceful means. The top comment on HN from his most recent post posed this question:

Yes, there are certain skills that make it easier to find information on your own. But this is

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Getting Your Groove Back

Or: How to regain confidence after you’ve lost it.

Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Dear Friend,

How’s it going? Alright? You don’t look alright to me.

You look like you’re going through rough times. Like you’ve had a couple setbacks and now you’re not so sure of yourself. Like maybe you’ve lost your way.

I don’t see that swagger in your walk any more. No wink and grin that says “Watch what I’m about to do.”

And of course, your results.

Your work is dull. Mediocre. You’re going through the motions – putting in the hours but not really giving it your best. You’re playing scared.Read the rest

Taking Cold Showers

This post is about why you might want to start taking cold showers.

I’ve been doing it for over a month now and I really like it.

The seed was planted in my mind after reading an article about it on a blog called Getting Stronger. The thesis behind Getting Stronger is that rather than damaging you, that stress can, in the right conditions, make you stronger by forcing you to adapt and thrive under tougher conditions. It’s an interesting premise and one I can easily get behind.

By the way, I love taking really hot showers and hate being … Read the rest

How Gymnastics Taught Me to Buck Up, Get Tough and Crush Fear

Practical tips for overcoming your fears

Photo: Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

I think most gymnasts consider pain and fear our twin companions. I certainly did. Gymnastics requires that athletes constantly challenge themselves to do more, much more. Routines that were performed in the Olympics in 2000 are being done by 15 year-olds in 2011. To learn new skills, you have to put yourself in scary situations.

One of the most important characteristics of a great gymnast is the ability to overcome fear and … Read the rest

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Acquiring and Mastering Skills

How deliberate practice works in sports

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

In 1996, Men’s Health published an article where they used some ridiculous mathematical formula using variables such as fitness, skill, pain, brains, etc to figure out the toughest sport in the world. And gymnastics came up number one. Here’s what they said:

Male gymnasts may wear tights, but they score perfect 10’s for fitness and athletic skills, and near-perfect marks for injury potential, mental toughness and difficult conditions. Let’s see you spin in circles on the high

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Part 3 (Finale): How I Blew Out My Knee and Came Back to Win a National Championship

This is the part three in a three-part series about the knee injury that changed my life and my road to an NCAA championship. In part two I talked about the physical therapy I did to recover from my knee injury, the return to competition and our team’s devastating loss to Oklahoma on home turf in 2008. Here’s how the story ends.

1. Channeling the pain

When you’re going for gold, getting silver really does feel like being the first loser.

I kept this picture of me in a Diamodov mid-fall above my desk for an entire year to remind … Read the rest