A recent study indicates 30 percent of the population has a genetic variant that may contribute to bad driving. Bummer, I guess if you have it, you’re doomed to accidents and tickets for the rest of your life. Don’t become a rider or racer, you can’t possibly hit the big time so learn the bus routes and take up golf, …
People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it – and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results.
They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.
Results showed that people with the variant did worse on both tests than the other participants, and they remembered less the second time.
Hmm, … let’s think about that.
Studies like these bother me because of the conclusions people draw from the data. A study, like the one above, indicating a genetic cause of less potential for performing well at a task like driving can be misinterpreted even if the findings are accurate because life is not a controlled experiment. Life is messy, challenging and unpredictable.
Even in the case of a simple task like driving, the difference in performance between two individuals outside the lab is more often related to attitude, desire, commitment and good old fashioned hard work than it is to some preexisting potential. Potentials are not absolutes; low potential does not preordain failure nor does high potential guarantee success. Really wanting to be a better driver can influence how much effort you put into it while others may not care.
Does it really matter how much potential a person has if they perform at a high level? If you learn in advance what your potential is supposed to be, you might not try something where you would do very well, or conversely, feel you could do something quite easily yet never put in any effort to find out. Saying you could means nothing, actually doing it counts.
Differences in potential do exist. If you work really hard, are you going to ride like Rossi or Spies? Highly doubtful. They have potential you and I don’t, but they still have to work really hard because Stoner and Haga have a lot of it, too.
There’s a big difference between the people featured on The Kneeslider because they actually completed a project and critics who inevitably show up in the comments saying they could do better if they wanted to, … even though they never do. Performance is what counts.
If you find, according to some test, you don’t have the potential to perform well in some activity, if you have your heart set on it, ignore the experts and try anyway. You don’t need anyone’s permission to excel. On the other hand, don’t expect the rules to be changed or standards softened to give you a head start. If you can’t do the job, no matter what the reason, you can learn more, work harder and try again, but, if you still fall short, don’t complain about the rules or standards. Something else might be a better fit for your particular skills and abilities.
The bottom line is simple, for the vast majority of us, in almost any area of endeavor, what you do with what you’ve got is far more important than what you start with. If you want to race, head over to the track, sign up and give it a try. Do you think you could build a custom motorcycle or start a motorcycle company? There’s only one sure way to find out. We get one shot at life, don’t let someone else tell you what you can’t do and should not try. If you think you can, don’t say so, just do it.