Bekoji… another Talent Hotbed that most people have never heard of!

A young runner asks his coach, “What do I need to do to become one of the best long distance runners in the world?” and the coach gives a simple answer of “move to Bekoji.”

The youngster looks insulted, thinking that the coach must have said “Baloney” to them, insinuating that they’ll never be good at running. The coach picks up on this and repeats what he said. This time the youngster just looks confused.

I can imagine this scene playing out all over the world right now for aspiring long distance athletes…. so, allow me to help take away your potentially puzzled or insulted expressions.

Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana has just won the gold medal at London 2012 in the marathon.

Gelana a runner from the relatively small (17,000 population) town of Bekoji, which is famous for …. errr …. absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that it’s tiny population has produced six world champions, 10 world records and five Olympic gold medalists.

Bekoji, is a “talent hotbed” – a concept that I was first introduced to by Daniel Coyle, within his amazing book “The Talent Code.” Coyle’s objective in the book is to unravel why such clusters of ‘talent’ appear to exist within a select number of very specific locations. He wanted to ascertain if it was simply a concentration of genetics, or whether something else was contributing.

In short, ‘genetics’ has been a term that has been over-relied upon and mis-used on far too many occasions to explain ‘success.’

We’ve all been at fault for this – every single one of us, and it has nothing to do with sport. How many times have we made statements like “he’s such a natural”, “they’re gifted in a way I’ll never be”, or “she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.”

These are all expressions of the same belief – that genes have led to the perceived success of the person.

So, basically what we are saying is, if we find something difficult and someone else makes it look easier, then it must be it down to genetics.

OK, back to our little talent hotbed in Ethiopia, which, by the way, is A RUNNING-MAD TOWN.

Yep, pretty much the entire town runs – or at least all the kids. It’s as important to them as going to school, actually, it’s probably more important. Each morning they are up and (yes) RUNNING!

They train, they compete, they live for running.

They run in their hundreds and complete more technical running and physical conditioning training before they are 10, than most people would do in a lifetime.

I can hear people still saying the “G” word…. so, let me continue.

I haven’t completed the full stat’s yet, but let me also highlight that it is not the WHOLE OF ETHIOPIA that is creating this concentration of running success (nearly 90 million total population), if it was there would be no medals left for anyone, it is just this little area.

Just 17,000 people within a huge country of 90 million.

So, before we make our next sweeping judgment, just pause for a second and think about the small town of Bekoji and then decide whether there is more to the story than someone simply having ‘better genetics.’

Want to know more, watch this….

Who am I?

And, just so you know who I am…. I’m Kevin Matthews, Producer of the Maximise Potential Podcast, and from time to time I try and put my own perspective on situations I’ve faced over the years and share the lessons that I’ve learnt.

If you’re a fan of TWITTER, please come and connect with me and share your thoughts and experiences @maximisemylife!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!