Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Non-Horsey Books for the Uber Competitive Horse Person

I am an avid reader and wish I had more free time to read.  Not yet graduated to the e-book reader as I have a home office which is full of shelves of books that I love.  Like Jackie Kennedy, I like to be surrounded by my books. 

There are few books that I often refer as a competitive rider that are not written specifically for the equestrian.  One of my favorites is a book I picked up at an off price bookstore in Ocala many years ago, Sports Psyching by Thomas Tutko and And Umberto Tosi.  This is a sports psychology book that can be applied to most any sport.  But since riding is not a team sport, much like tennis, so much depends on your individual performance. This book taught me to concentrate, as the author states "without concentration, no athlete can be successful."  I still refer to it before a big competition and it just reminds me how mental most sports are, once you reach a certain level of training.  And riding is so dependent on the ability to focus and concentrate. You can still buy it on Amazon. 

Another favorite is one that is out of print but you can buy it from resellers on Amazon. This was given to me as a gradate school graduation present and I have cherished it ever since.  George Plimpton's The X Factor examines the "factor" that all winners, from famous athletes to successful CEOs seem to possess.  He defines the X Factor as "a quality which goes by many aliases: competitive spirit, the will to win, giving it 100 percent, the hidden spark, Celtic Green, Yankee pinstripes, guts, the killer instinct, elan vital, having the bit in one's teeth, and so on - qualities which if synthesized into a liquid form and corked up in a bottle could be sold by the millions."

I think of Serena Williams as she clearly has the "X Factor" in spades. 

A more recent book, and somewhat similar to Plimpton's in a way is Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.  Instead of focusing on traits that extremely successful people possess, Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive we should spend more time looking around them at things such as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date.  Is it coincidental that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born in the same year?  His book is fascinating and he makes some very good points about time, place, and the 10,000 hour rule.  I won't give it away. You will need to read it for yourself to find out what that is.  You won't be disappointed.

And I am including a book that I have not read yet but it is on my short list.  Talent is Overrated by journalist Geoff Colvin. 

One of the most popular Fortune articles in many years was a cover story called “What It Takes to Be Great.” Geoff Colvin offered new evidence that top performers in any field--from Tiger Woods and Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch--are not determined by their inborn talents. Greatness doesn’t come from DNA but from practice and perseverance honed over decades.

And not just plain old hard work, like your grandmother might have advocated, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness.

I am reading a great book on Dwight Eisenhour.  Eisenhour's story, how he lingered in the Army until he was in his early 50's, producing a great record of success, but not moving up, with a foundation built on very hard work, not working for yourself but for the good of the team (the Army in this case) is a perfect example of Colvin's theory of success. 

Hope I inspired some of you to read!  Sometimes you need inspiration, a new approach, a different way of looking at an old problem to cross that hurdle on your way to perfection in whataver you do!  Enjoy your Wednesday.


  1. These are all interesting and I hope to read them. Thank you. Therese


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...