I’m Ruben Perczek—Father, husband, former professional athlete, and Transformation psychologist.
Like most professionals, my path to success was not linear, but full of highs and lows. But my athletic achievements (and my failures) are what inspired me to become a doctor, and more importantly, to do the work that I do today.
The calm, measured, and logical doctor you see smiling at you on this page was once a ferocious competitor—addicted to competition, driven by internal motivation, and riddled with tremendous stress. I know what it’s like to be at the top of your game physically, but I also know how to overcome the mental obstacles that erode motivation and success.
Here’s my story.
“Traditional performance coaching gives good knowledge on how coaches can help players to master the ball and how to master the body. No one is teaching the pro sports fraternity how to tap into its highest potential. This is the most exciting part from Doc Ruben and the ‘7 Roots of Potential.’ I have always tried to use conventional methods, but this work is undoubtedly creating a new way of developing our future sport leaders, head coaches, and professional players.”
—Vic Bettinelli, Head of Goalkeeping, Fulham FC, known for innovative coaching practices, and Former Professional English Goalkeeper
I went from being a 5x national tennis champion—top ranked in the world—with a contract from Nike to a lost, depressed, former pro athlete in just six years. And from that journey I received my greatest gift ever.
Let me explain.
I grew up in an authoritative family environment, so naturally I stayed quiet and had constant pent up frustration. Sports was my outlet; the only time I felt like me.
I wasn’t overly gifted, but I was driven. I never let anybody out-work me, I took risks nobody else would, and I had an insatiable desire to win. That’s how I became a 5x national tennis champion.
I left home at age 15 to pursue my sports career. I left everything I knew—my friends, my culture, and my language, but I didn’t realize what effects this would have on my state of mind at the time. I communicated with my family once a month by mailing letters—remember those? Our talks were infrequent so I learned how to be alone while facing the pain of finding my identity through sports.
Even though I was experiencing tremendous stress, waking up every day with the jitters, I performed in spite of my anxiety. I became an expert in dealing with the pressure to continue to perform and win—I took action despite my divided mindset.
It didn’t last, however, and shortly after becoming a pro athlete, despite my great contracts, I sabotaged my sports career at the age of 21. The people who had expectations of me reaching the top of my sport were shocked—they had no idea what I was going through internally.
Losing that part of my life left me feeling lost and depressed. I kept digging deeper into understanding my identity and realized that society tends to believe their results are what gives them their identity, their self-worth.
But I found out this isn’t true at all, and that was the greatest gift from my experience.
After the abrupt end to my athletic career, I decided to explore a new outlet and found myself in the world of performing arts. It’s a completely different scene from athletics, and that dramatic experience triggered me to start asking much deeper questions about myself beyond winning and sports.
Where is true meaning in my life if not in trophies and accomplishments?
And while practicing performing arts, I had an incredible realization:
In the performing arts, with enough practice (rehearsal), you can become anybody. You can mold and shape your identity from the inside, rather than let external forces (like trophies, achievements, and the expectations of others) determine who you are.
This curiosity led me to explore science. Thinking about meaning and identity, I wanted to better understand the relationship between mind and body.
Who are we besides our titles and accomplishments?
How does the mind-body connection impact our self-awareness and in turn our motivation?
Who are we and how do we tap into our potential to bring our very best into what we do?
I had to find out.
I obtained my PhD in clinical Psychology and was a fellow scientist at Stanford University. Shortly after, I became a professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Later, I was Director of High-Performance in the University of Miami’s Department of Athletics.
My background in elite sports, the performing arts, public keynote speaking on the mind/body connection, leadership, and sustainable excellence have led me to consult with global industry leaders to strategically evolve human potential in their teams and institutions.
For over 30 years, I have been studying one question – who are we and how do we unleash our untapped potential? We all have untapped potential but few of us are committed to stay the course and discover it.
This is often the difference between an amateur and a professional. In my experience, the likelihood of finding a professional significantly increases when collaborating with accomplished professionals in sport.
As a result, they are who I partner with to strategically evolve human potential within their institutions and teams.
My work, which is oriented through a canvas I’ve coined The 7 Roots of Potential, is uniquely distinct from conventional approaches to high performance.
The focus is on tapping into the true potential that’s already present, not on techniques and formulas driven by the obsession of achievement short-term.
The result is people and cultures that come together to bring their best for the common cause.
All of us come together as students, not experts, ready to explore the edge of possibility.
At the age of 22, Brittany Viola was a top ranked competitive collegiate diver aspiring to reach the Olympics. But she became stuck and she couldn’t escape the feeling that her career was coming to an end. She desperately wanted to finish strong but didn’t know how—something was missing and she was facing extreme burnout.
Brittany needed support and she found me. My job was to add that missing element to her work which would allow her to reach the next level she desired. Most importantly though, I wanted to find a way that would allow her to transform her self-image as a diver into a life of excellence beyond her athletic achievements.
We worked Brittany through my proven process and she went on to win two national championships and realized her life-long goal of becoming an Olympian. The beautiful journey led her to break through life-long patterns that kept her secretly burnt out and dependent on her external scoreboard for her well-being into a sustainable model of excellence. Brittany had to transform herself to step into the next level of success she wanted so badly. That meant leaving all her excuses behind and surrendering to becoming her best in every way.
Brittany not only achieved her highest level of athletic achievement, she also prepared herself to excel in all areas of life.
There’s nothing more fulfilling and energizing for me than seeing a young athlete like Brittany dream big, achieve her goals, and grow tremendously in the process. I am blessed to be in a position to coach elite athletes to learn to tap into their true potential for living a healthy, joyful, and meaningful lives.
But how do we do it? What is the process that makes it work?
The 7 Roots of Potential™ is a process designed for sports professionals (sport organizational leaders, pro head coaches, and the pro athletes in their teams) who are no just looking to prove themselves through trophies, achievements, records. While they are grateful for the career they’ve had, they are no longer playing their sport as an obsession for individual achievement.
These institutions and their senior leaders, my clients, are in a different chapter of their lives. They lead and play their sport for reasons that transcend the achievement of a title or trophy. Their primary interest to make sure everyone in their organization is provided the conditions and opportunity to evolve and execute their very best.
It sounds simple, but as you know, nothing great ever comes without hard work, attention to detail, and leaders who walk their talk.
And now you know my story, my professional history, my vocation, and hopefully, me.
My mission is to turn the thinking about high performance upside-down. Having achieved world-class status as a young athlete, I know first hand the struggle youth go through and the impact these struggles have, if not managed well, can have on their quality of life long term.
As a result, I am fully dedicated to supporting high potential youth in sport develop in a healthy way so they can learn early on that their success in life is not determined by their achievements.
My life’s work has resulted in a transformational framework I call The 7 Roots of Potential™.
This approach maximizes the young athlete’s performance but more importantly, leads them to enjoy healthier and more constructive lives long term.
Are you a pro team president, senior leader in a pro sports team, pro head coach, or pro athlete who wants to focus on the human being, not just prove yourself through trophies, records, and statistics? Are you interested in strategically evolving human potential long-term in you, your team, and the whole organization? Our current world crisis through this pandemic is calling the world of sports to re-invent itself. The world of elite sports offers a unique platform through which we can dig deep and go into the next layer of our possibility. Let's do it for ourselves, our children, families, and a world that is entering a new chapter of its history.