Nature vs Nurture Case Studies 3 and 4: Shizuka Arakawa and Alexandra Kosteniuk

I have a ton of examples that we may revisit at a later date, but for now, I’m eager to get to the meat and potatoes – I want to share the formulas, techniques, and strategies, and tactics that I have learned that will unlock your mind’s hidden potential.

This will be our last set of Nature vs Nurture Case Studies, but I hope that this has offered some convincing evidence of how the mind works – how it is cultivated, molded, exercised, and trained to excellence, as opposed to the common school of thought which attributes strong talent and ability to genetics; natural aptitude.

The Brain Muscle

It has been proven, or very nearly proven anyways (it is nearly impossible to truly “prove” anything) that the human brain operates a lot like a muscle. Here is a great article I enjoyed reading on that subject.

The mind has to be treated like a muscle – exercised, trained, fed a healthy diet, etc. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you may have a genetic “swinging chance” to become an intellectual powerhouse.

You have the ability to shape your brain into what you want it to be. But it takes time, dedication, and the right tools. Enough said on that. Here are our last case studies until further notice:

Case Study #3: Shizuka Arakawa

Shizuka Arakawa was a Japanese figure skater since the age of 5. She won the Olympic gold in Turin in 2006 at the age of 24. “A study of figure skaters found that sub-elite skaters spent lots of time working on the jumps they could already do, while skaters at the highest levels spent more time on the jumps they couldn’t do … and that involves lots of falling down before they’re mastered. Falling down in figure skating means landing on your behind, protected by a thin costume, on hard, cold ice.”Colvin says that Arakawa landed on her derriere “at least” 20,000 times before gaining gold. It’s not inherent talent. It’s deliberate and uncomfortable practice. (1)


Case Study #4: Alexandra Kosteniuk

Here is an excerpt from her website:

“Hello everybody! My name is Alexandra Kosteniuk, I am the 12th women’s world chess champion. I was born on April 23, 1984 in Perm, Russia. I started to play chess at the age of 5. During my chess career I have achieved many titles and won various prestigious chess events: at the age of 14 I became a woman grandmaster. In 2001, at the age of 17, I reached the final stage of the women’s world chess championship and became the vice-champion of the world. In 2004 I became the European Champion among women and in 2005 I conquered the Women’s Russian Championship. The peak achievement of my career was in 2008 when I won the women’s world chess championship in Nalchik, getting the world crown and the 12th women’s world champion title. I have been playing for the Russian National Team since 2002, together with my team I won the Chess Olympiad-2010 and became 3-times winner of the European Team Championship (2007, 2009 and 2011).” (

Her secret of success – extensive training from the age of 5 on.

Do a little research on your own and see what you find out – I personally have not been able to find one single account of an athlete or scholar who has climbed the ladder of success through means of the myth of natural talent.

I challenge you to find anything proving otherwise!


  1. windhound October 17, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration” This Thomas A Edison quote seems very appropriate here.


    • NF Hannibal October 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Very appropriate indeed! Thomas Edison is a great example in the nature vs nurture cases – his ability to obsess over an idea for extended periods of time was certainly one of the traits that led to his success, despite being regarded for many years as mentally slow. Interestingly enough, it was his mother’s nurturing that helped him develop this type of attitude, and the confidence to begin with, even though he was considered… intellectually less than gifted.



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