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Unlocking Excellence: The Mindset of Elite Learners

In the pursuit of excellence, it’s not just innate talent that sets the elite apart; it’s their mindset and approach to learning that truly distinguish them. Elite learners understand that building skills takes time, effort, and unwavering persistence. They embrace discomfort as an integral part of the learning process, recognizing that avoiding it hinders growth. They view mistakes as valuable teachers and welcome feedback and coaching as crucial tools for improvement. This blog post explores the mindset of elite learners and how these five key principles can transform anyone into a constant, evolving learner.

Building Skills: The Tenacious Path to Mastery

Skill Building as a Journey

Consistency in investing time and effort over the long term is the cornerstone of cultivating expertise. Whether in sports, arts, or any field, true mastery requires dedication and unwavering persistence. It’s not the sporadic bursts of effort but the sustained commitment to improvement that distinguishes experts from novices. This commitment allows individuals to delve deeper into their chosen domain, uncover hidden nuances, and refine their skills to a level of excellence that sets them apart. In essence, the path to expertise is a marathon, not a sprint, and the consistent investment of time and effort is what propels individuals towards becoming true masters in their craft.

The Power of Tenacious Persistence

Persistence in the face of challenges is the hallmark of elite learners. They possess an unwavering determination and resilience that propels them to conquer obstacles on their journey to mastery. These individuals understand that setbacks and difficulties are not roadblocks but rather opportunities for growth and refinement. Their tenacious spirit empowers them to stay the course, even when the path seems arduous, knowing that it’s the unwavering commitment to their goals that ultimately leads to unparalleled success. In the face of adversity, elite learners not only endure but thrive, emerging stronger, more skilled, and closer to their aspirations.

Embracing Discomfort: The Catalyst for Growth

The Comfort Zone Paradox

Avoiding discomfort can hinder the learning process, as it often keeps individuals within the confines of their comfort zones. Elite learners recognize that true growth lies outside these safe boundaries. They actively seek discomfort as a means of expansion and evolution. By venturing into unfamiliar territory, they challenge themselves, adapt to new circumstances, and acquire invaluable experiences. Discomfort becomes a catalyst for pushing limits, fostering resilience, and embracing change. In doing so, elite learners not only accelerate their learning but also cultivate a mindset that thrives in the face of uncertainty, a key attribute on their path to mastery.

Stepping into the Unknown

Elite learners possess a profound understanding that stepping into the uncharted territory is where genuine growth unfolds. They willingly embrace discomfort, recognizing that it is the crucible for personal and professional development. By venturing beyond their comfort zones, elite learners stretch their boundaries, challenge preconceptions, and unlock their full potential. In these moments of discomfort, they discover new strengths, talents, and capabilities that they may have never known existed. It’s this audacious embrace of the unfamiliar that propels them toward excellence, allowing them to continuously evolve and thrive in their pursuit of mastery.

Learning from Mistakes: The Invaluable Teachers

The Stigma of Mistakes

While many view mistakes as failures, elite learners see them as indispensable stepping stones to success. These individuals understand that making mistakes is an intrinsic part of the learning process. Mistakes provide profound lessons, offering insights that guide future actions and decisions. Elite learners approach errors with curiosity, using them as opportunities to refine their skills and knowledge. Moreover, this willingness to make mistakes fosters innovation; it encourages them to push boundaries and explore uncharted territories, often leading to groundbreaking discoveries and creative solutions. In the world of elite learners, every misstep is a chance to learn, grow, and ultimately, excel.

Resilience in the Face of Setbacks

Elite learners possess the remarkable ability to swiftly learn from their mistakes and propel themselves forward. They understand that dwelling on errors can impede progress, so they choose instead to extract valuable insights and pivot towards improvement. A notable Canadian example of how failures propelled an individual towards greatness is Wayne Gretzky. Early in his career, Gretzky faced numerous setbacks and disappointments, but he never let them deter his determination. Instead, he used those experiences to refine his skills, adapt his strategies, and ultimately become one of the greatest hockey players in history. His resilience in the face of adversity is a testament to the mindset of elite learners, showcasing how embracing failures can lead to unparalleled success.

Wayne Gretzky, often referred to as “The Great One,” had an illustrious career, but like all athletes, he faced challenges and setbacks early on. One notable early “failure” was his rejection from the Canadian national team for the 1978 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Despite being a highly skilled and accomplished young player, Gretzky was initially not selected due to concerns about his size and perceived physical limitations. However, this setback didn’t deter him. Instead, he used it as motivation to work harder and prove his worth. It wasn’t long before Gretzky’s exceptional skills and determination made him an iconic figure in hockey history, illustrating how he learned from early disappointments and propelled himself towards greatness.

The Importance of Feedback and Coaching

The Role of Feedback

Feedback is the lifeblood of growth, and elite learners understand this fundamental truth. They actively seek constructive criticism to refine their skills and enhance their performance. Feedback provides a mirror that reflects both strengths and areas for improvement, guiding them toward excellence. Elite learners recognize that without feedback, progress can be stagnant, and opportunities for growth can be missed. They view feedback not as a critique but as a valuable tool for self-improvement, allowing them to constantly evolve and fine-tune their abilities, ultimately setting them apart as masters in their chosen domains.

The Impact of Coaching

Elite learners frequently attribute their success to the guidance of mentors or coaches who play a pivotal role in their journey. The transformative influence of coaching and mentorship cannot be overstated; it accelerates the path to excellence. Coaches and mentors provide valuable insights, personalized guidance, and a wealth of experience that learners can draw upon. They not only refine skills but also impart wisdom and instill the mindset necessary for greatness. By learning from those who have walked the path before them, elite learners benefit from a wealth of knowledge and practical wisdom, positioning them for exceptional achievements in their chosen fields.

The Mindset of Continuous Improvement

Getting Better Every Day

At the heart of elite learners lies an unwavering commitment to improvement. This steadfast dedication fosters a continuous cycle of growth and refinement that propels them to new heights. They approach each day with the conviction that they can become better versions of themselves. This mindset fuels a relentless pursuit of excellence, where each achievement is seen not as the culmination but as a stepping stone to the next level of mastery. Through this perpetual cycle of growth and refinement, elite learners continue to evolve, setting new standards of excellence and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

The Journey, Not the Destination

Elite learners possess a profound understanding that excellence is not a final destination but an enduring journey. They recognize that there is always room for improvement, no matter how accomplished they become. By adopting this mindset, individuals can unlock remarkable personal and professional growth. It encourages them to embrace challenges, seek opportunities for learning, and continually refine their skills. The mindset of an elite learner not only propels one towards success but also ensures that the pursuit of excellence remains a lifelong adventure, filled with continuous evolution and extraordinary achievements. It is a mindset that can transform not just careers but entire lives, fostering a legacy of continuous growth and unwavering determination.

Becoming an Elite Learner

In the quest for excellence, it’s not innate talent that reigns supreme but the mindset of an elite learner. These individuals recognize that skill-building is a journey requiring time and tenacious persistence. They embrace discomfort, learn from mistakes, and actively seek feedback and coaching to fuel their growth. Above all, they embody the mindset of getting better every day, understanding that excellence is not an end but a lifelong pursuit. By adopting these principles, anyone can unlock their potential and embark on a transformative journey towards becoming an elite learner, constantly evolving and achieving greatness in their chosen field.

Rising Stars is at the forefront of cultivating elite learners through their comprehensive athletics and leadership programs. By combining sports and leadership development, Rising Stars instills the values of dedication, perseverance, and continuous improvement in young athletes. These programs provide a platform where participants not only hone their athletic skills but also embrace discomfort, learn from setbacks, and develop resilience. Rising Stars’ emphasis on feedback and coaching empowers young athletes to grow not only on the field but also as individuals. Through these holistic programs, Rising Stars fosters a mindset of constant learning and improvement, preparing the next generation of elite learners who are not only exceptional athletes but also outstanding leaders in their communities and beyond.

Rising Stars


RS Technical Director

Brock University, NCCP Level III


*Soccer Development
*Sport Promotion


RS Technical Director – Athletics

Waterloo University, BA

Lakehead University B.Ed, M. Ed

NCAA: Referee/Official

High Five: Principles of Healthy Child Development
Sport for Life: Physical Literacy for Early Childhood


RS Regional Director – Athletics & Education

Waterloo University, BA
Lakehead University B.Ed, M. Ed

NCAA: Referee/Official
High Five: Principles of Healthy Child Development
Sport for Life: Physical Literacy for Early Childhood


Sport Development 
Youth Development


RS Technical Director – Play & Recess

NCCP: Coaches Physical Literacy Training


Play & Recreation
Recess Programming

High Five: Principles of Healthy Child Development
Sport for Life: Physical Literacy Instructor Program
Sport for Life: Physical Literacy for Early Childhood
Member of the US Play Coalition (Since 2011)
Founder of the Canadian Play Network
Creator of the PlanetPlay Stencil line


Regional Director

Lakehead University, B.A.
University of Newcastle – Australia, B.Ed
Specialist PE & Health


*Indigenous Education
*Youth & Sport Development

As a Regional Director with Rising Stars, Matt coordinates and facilitates various programs across both our athletics and education divisions. He currently serves as the Director of Rising Stars Basketball Academy Six Nations.

Matt King grew up as an all star athlete. He played NAIG for Team Ontario, and represented Ontario at National Aboriginal basketball camp, where he was selected MVP. Matt competed as a varsity athlete for the Mens Basketball Team at Laurier and Lakehead Universities, and went on to coach U Sport at both Lakehead and Guelph. Matt continued his education and began a professional career as a certified teacher. After ten years of dedicated service as a teacher, coach and Athletic Director (Chair) with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, Matt embarked on a new professional adventure, while continuing to compete in triathlons and Iron-Man races. As a Regional Director with Rising Stars, Matt coordinates and facilitates various programs across both our athletics and education divisions. Matt specializes in facilitating programs and instruction for youth, students, and athletes, both on and off reserve. He currently serves as the Director of Rising Stars Basketball Academy – Six Nations.


RS Associate Director

Laurier University, B.A.
Queensland University of Technology – Australia, B.Ed,


*Basketball Development
*Indigenous Education

As an Associate Director at Rising Stars, Dee coordinates programs both in the athletics and education divisions in support of youth, students, and athletes, both on and off reserves.

Delicia Channer competed as a varsity athlete for Laurier University Women’s Basketball Team, where she was the team captain and a division all star. Dee continued her education and began a professional career as a certified teacher. Dee now serves as an Associate Director with Rising Stars. She is a LEAD Facilitator for Indigenous projects, programs, and services. In this role, Dee facilities creative programs and workshops that promote Indigenous awareness and empowerment. As Rising Stars most Senior Programs Instructor & Facilitator, Dee coordinates programs in both the athletics and education divisions. Dee specializes in facilitating programs and instruction for youth, students, and athletes, both on and off reserve. She currently serves as the Head Coach for the Conestoga College Women’s Basketball team.


Senior Vice President, Director of Programs

Spring Arbor University, BSc Concurrent Education
Specialist Sport Science


* Female Empowerment
* Sport Development

As the Senior Vice President at Rising Stars Athletics & Education, Erin serves as the General Manager of the Education Division. Erin facilitates Advanced Programs and Instruction for administrators, coaches, and teachers. Erin develops and designs programs and curriculum for student engagement and athlete development.

Erin Forman is former member of both Softball Canada’s National team program and Baseball Canada’s National Team. She played in the 2004 Women’s World Series in Japan, and the 2006 World Cup in Taipei. Erin was named All American, All Conference, and Player of the Year, while playing on a U.S. Softball Scholarship. She was recently  inducted into the hall of fame for her achievements in sport. Though Erin’s sport specific bio clearly demonstrates an extensive combination of all around athleticism and personal achievement in softball that very few athletes can claim, equally impressive is her continued commitment to helping others achieve their goals through sport and education in her professional endeavours. Erin serves as role model in her trade and community. She demonstrates an unwavering commitment to making positive differences in the lives of others.

Erin continues to use sport as a vehicle to empower others in the work she does in coaching, and also in her professional endeavours. As a founding partner and Director of Softball Development at Rising Stars, Erin has become one of the most highly sought teachers and coaches of the game. Erin is on the cutting edge of instructional techniques, tools, and theories for optimal development. She has worked with countless local and regional athletes, supporting aspiring student-athletes as they continue in their positive development and successfully pursue opportunities to play college or university ball in Canada, and/or secure U.S. softball scholarships, with many advancing to become provincial and national calibre softball players.


Founding Partner, President & Chair

McMaster University, B.A., M.A
University of Western Ontario – Ph.D


*Leadership & Empowerment
*Youth & Community Development

As the original Founding Partner of what would eventually become the Rising Stars Group of companies, Dr Peters has been instrumental in the continued expansion and reach of positive sport, youth, and community development programs and special projects.

From early beginnings as a competitive student athlete in the Hamilton region, and many local achievements and recognitions at the secondary level, Dr Peters went on to compete as a varsity athlete for McMaster University, winning numerous regional, provincial and national medals as a member of the Men’s Basketball Team. Dr Peters earned both a B.A., and M.A. at McMaster University, and went on to acquire a teaching certificate from D’Youville College, and a Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario. These formative years laid the foundation for what would eventually become Rising Stars Athletics and Education.

He continues to serve as the conglomerate’s most senior executive, with 25 years of success in youth and community development through athletics and education. He continues to leverage his passion and extensive experience to engage youth and community in a positive and healthy development.

Dr. Peters devotes his time and energy to creating and partnering with stakeholders in the facilitation of innovative student and athlete development programs. Through strategic partnerships with national, professional, and elite athletes, coaches, sport science professionals, and educators, Dr Peters continues to collaborate with local organizations and expand through offering a variety of programs designed specifically for the benefit of athletes, students, schools, and communities.