I have told this story many times, but wanted to put it in writing. Daniel Coyle in his landmark work The Talent Code talks about igniting the fire of greatness. Coyle states
‘we are often taught that talent begins with genetic gifts- that the talented are effortlessly able to perform feats that the rest of us just dream of. This is false. Talent begins with brief powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind: I could be them.”
I can tell you that I witnessed ignition in my daughters life at a USA Women’s Hockey camp in Blaine Minnesota. I watched my then 11 year old daughter act like a member of a lost tribe who had found “her people”. There were others like her. Women who just wanted to be hockey players. I could see her mind shift to “I could be like them” and I watched her behavior shift to be like them. Suddenly an hour of shooting pucks seemed like a good idea. The weightroom became an obvious place to visit. She wrote her own story here: Women’s Hockey Life .
In Shenk’s The Genius in All of Us he talks about genetics x environment. Not genetics plus environment but genetics times environment. Great genetics and the environment of ignition lights a powerful fire. The lesson for me is that you can create passion by exposure to great role models. Taking your son or daughter to a great college game becomes a really good idea. Staying for autograph sessions after, even better. You don’t need to push passionate kids, they do it themselves. Find ways to encourage passion, even is sometimes it is by accident.