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5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

5 Athletes Who Bloomed Late In Their Career

Some athletes were born for greatness. When Tiger Woods was two years old, he was already out-putting Bob Hope on the golf course. When he stepped onto the course as an adult, it was clear that he would make sporting history.

But not everyone is Tiger Woods. Certainly, they were born to play a sport but they took a different trajectory to greatness. For some of the best athletes in history, reaching stardom took thousands of hours of work over years of their life to make it to the big time.

Here are just five athletes who reached greatness late in their career.

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Ken Norton

In 1973, Ken Norton broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in an epic fight. But Ken Norton had not spent his entire life preparing for that fight. By all accounts, Norton should have been a football player. He received a football scholarship to Truman State after high school but left after two years because of injuries.

Norton began boxing in 1963 when he enlisted in the Marines. He committed to boxing and forged a 24-2 record for himself, capturing three All-Marine Heavyweight titles.

After the leaving the marines, he became a professional boxer. He had a 14-year-long career as a pro boxer and became the heavyweight champion after his 30th birthday.

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R.A. Dickey

Dickey was a first-round pick for the Texas Rangers, but despite his hard work, he was unable to hold on to his starting position on the team. For a decade, he tried to stay afloat as he drifted into Major League Baseball obscurity.

In 2005, Dickey perfected the knuckleball. All of a sudden, he went from a career as a relatively unknown baseball player to becoming a starting pitcher for the Mets at the age of 35. In 2012, he was voted in as an All Star and he was the only pitcher with a knuckleball to receive the NL Cy Young Award.

Anthony Davis

Davis is one of the hottest players in the NBA right now and likely has a long future as a professional basketball player in front of him. But Anthony was not always the top pick for the court, in fact, he struggled to get on the court at all at the high school level.

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Davis stood at 6 feet 2 inches tall until the summer before his junior year of high school. Over those three months, Davis grew a remarkable eight inches and reached 6’10”. By the time he left school, he would be scouted by colleges and the NBA. He committed to play ball for Kentucky. He even joined the American basketball squad for the 2012 Olympic games without having gone pro.

Kurt Warner

Once upon a time, during the 1994 NFL Draft, every professional football team chose to pass on Kurt Warner. So, Warner gave up on his dream briefly and began working at a supermarket. Later, he began playing arena football and he made a serious impression on those around him. Warner signed to the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and he worked his way up from third string over several seasons.

Then, he had a stroke of luck. The Ram’s starting quarterback was injured in the preseason and Warner was called up from the bench to finally become a starting NFL quarterback. The situation has parallels with the fortunes of Brazilian veteran soccer star Denilson, who also saw a late career resurgence. During that season, Warner threw 41 touchdowns, racked up 4,353 yards, and lead the Rams to victory at Super Bowl XXXIV. He was the Super Bowl MVP that year and the NFL MVP.

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All this success came from a man who sat on the bench for the better part of a decade.

Rocky Marciano

Rocky is a storied fighter, probably one of the most famous athletes to come from the sport of boxing. However, Rocky didn’t start training for his first professional fight right out of the gate. In fact, his first pro match didn’t happen until he turned 25.

Rocky was an amateur fighter while he was in the service. When he did go pro, he knocked out his opponents the first 16 times he stepped in the ring. When he retired, he left with 49 wins (43 knockouts) and zero losses. He had the kind of record that inspired major Hollywood films.

A select few athletes walk on the pitch for the first time and awe the crowd. But don’t discount those who don’t shine right away. Some of the greatest sports heroes in modern history were late bloomers.

Featured photo credit: slgckgc via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain

15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of contiuous learning:

1. Always have a book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

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3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

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6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

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Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

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13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15 .Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

In fact, you can train your brain to crave lifelong learning! Here’s how to become a lifelong learner:

How to Train Your Brain to Crave Lifelong Learning (And Why It’s Good)

More Resources About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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