Being World Class – It’s PDA not DNA

Being World Class – It’s PDA, not DNA

by Simon Hartley, Be World Class

As a sport psychologist and performance coach I have read may articles and books which attempt to describe the ‘DNA’ of successful people. I can remember reading the ‘Billionaire DNA’ a while ago, which sought to unlock the secret code that was inherent within highly successful entrepreneurs and business tycoons. In the same way, sports researchers have often looked to uncover the ‘Olympic DNA’. What are the secrets to world class performance? It is a question that has fascinated me for years.

A few years ago, I set out to discover what differentiates world class performers. For many years I have had the great pleasure of working with world class athletes and sports teams. Watching them live and work has raised questions in my mind. What is it that makes some people exceptional? What differentiates them from the ones who almost made it? These questions have intrigued me for years. But my intrigue is not just limited to athletes and sport. I want to know what differentiates the world’s best from their peers across the board.

At the turn of the year I decided to interview a group of world class people from a diverse range of fields. My rationale was pretty simple. If there are traits that are common to world class chefs, mountaineers, baristas, athletes, polar explorers, special-forces personnel and scientists, those traits are likely to cross into any domain; sport, business, education, and life.

After spending time talking with, working with, and more importantly, listening to world class people, I’ve come to a conclusion. It’s not DNA, it’s PDA.

What do I mean by that?

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a bio-chemical material that’s found in our genes. PDA stands for Perception, Decision and Action. From my work with world class people, I’ve come to the conclusion that their journey to become world class has little to do with their DNA, but a great deal to do with their Perceptions, Decisions and Actions. In fact, the world class people that I’ve met seem to share eight characteristics and traits. Unsurprisingly, these are unrelated to any physical or biological characteristic. Instead, they relate to ways in which world class people perceive the challenges that life throws that them, the way they approach those challenges, the decisions and choices that they make and their actions. Some of their decisions and choices are extraordinary. Put simply, they do the things that their peers don’t do.

If you’d like an insight into the way world class people think, make their decisions, approach challenges, deal with set-backs and perceive their world, visit

Go on… be inspired!