One of my friends on Facebook, shared an interesting link on Slate.com, which demonstrated that pretty much in every category, Olympic winners of today are faster than the Olympiads of 100 years ago.
Considering that I doubt we have changed our physical features very little, and evolution has probably not really not been focusing on physical mutations as much as brain mutations due to our changing societal needs, why would this be?
On the one hand, it could be that people are training harder. Perhaps, as the Olympics have become more popular it brings Olympiads out of the woodwork. Finally, it could be that there are nations that participate now, that didn’t participate in the past.
However, I would make the case that these physical advances are really all mental, and demonstrate a few important lessons.
1) With a goal in mind, we accomplish more. In this case, the goal was the previous existing world record. Goals give us something to actively strive for, and focus on, as well as try not to fail at. All of which help us go farther.
2) Humans are intrinsically lazy. We have discussed this with regards to thinking, but this also extends to getting what we want. We don’t put forth more effort than is needed to accomplish our goals, which in this case is to beat the old record and be number one. There is much less motivation to smash it.
3) We use others as a gauge of what can be accomplished. This results in the fact, that we don’t even set our goals based on what we are capable of, rather, what others have done.
To me this third lesson is of most interest, since, what it implies is that we are all much more capable at exceeding our goals, but we limit ourselves by looking at the accomplishments of others.
So let’s set our goals appropriate to the greatness within, and not the greatness of others without!