Stress blog

Opportunity for greatness is within us all

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. June 11, 2010

Lionel Messi is one of the greatest soccer players on the planet. The eyes of the world will be on him as his team competes for the World Cup. How did this wiry young man come to dominate the sport?

Was it a random spin of the genetic roulette wheel that endowed him with the gifts of balance, speed and vision? Or is it something more? Why should you care? Let me explain.

We used to believe that our genes determined our future. If you inherited athletic genes, for example, chances were you'd become a sports superstar. On the other hand, if you inherited genes for mental illness, your prospects were gloomy.

A more modern school of thought argues that although we each receive a specific genetic endowment, our environment plays a key role in determining our success. In other words, each of us has an opportunity to excel — if we choose to maximize our potential.

Two recent books, "Talent is Overrated" and "The Genius in All of Us," argue that achieving greatness in any field takes relentless, deliberate practice — and lots of it. The born superstar or child prodigy is a myth.

Sure, some individuals have innate advantages, but at the end of the day it's their dedication that separates them from everyone else.

Does this resonate with you? Or am I off base?


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Jun. 11, 2010