I’m Ruben Perczek—Father, husband, former athlete, organizational culture consultant, high performance strategic advisor.
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 external 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 results are what gives us their identity, our 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.
Who am I, if not my 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 accomplish your goals without depending on them to determine who you are.
This curiosity led me to explore science. Thinking about high performance 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 motivation and in turn our performance?
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 personal and cultural identity, leadership, and sustainable excellence have led me to consult with global industry leaders to strategically evolve high performing leadership cultures in their teams and institutions.
For over 30 years, I have been studying one question – how do we live life as a possibility to be discovered rather than a problem to be solved? We all desire to do our very best but few of us have the capacity to commit, stay the course and discover it.
This is often the difference between winning a trophy and sustaining excellence throughout life. In my experience, the likelihood of creating sustainable excellence significantly increases when collaborating with accomplished professionals in sport and public leadership.
As a result, they are who I partner with to strategically evolve human potential within their inner circles and institutions.
My work, which is oriented through a strategic roadmap methodology I’ve coined The 7 Roots of Potential™, is uniquely distinct from conventional approaches to high performance.
The focus is on the strategic design and implementation of sustainable high performing human systems, not on techniques and formulas driven by the obsession of achievement short-term.
The result is people and cultures that come together to bring the best of each other for a shared cause.
All of us come together as co-creators, not behind-the-desk experts, ready to breakthrough new edges 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 orientation 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 reached 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 healthy, joyful, and meaningful lives.
But how do we do it? What is the process that makes it work?
Working with world-class athletes such as Brittany, I have developed a proven process known as The 7 Roots of Potential™ which allows for them to evolve themselves and optimize every important aspect of their life, not just their sport.
The 7 Roots of Potential™ is a process designed for leaders in sport and public life (society leaders, sport executives, pro head coaches, and pro athletes) who are no longer looking to prove themselves through trophies, achievements, and records. While they are grateful for the gifts they’ve been given, they are no longer willing to pursue their goals while killing their spirit along the way.
These trailblazers, my clients, are in a different chapter of their lives. They lead their organizations and teams for reasons that transcend short-term achievement or personal glory. Their primary driver is to execute their very best for the greater good of the institutions they serve and society.
It sounds simple, but as you know, bringing out the best in ourselves and others doesn’t come without discomfort, discipline, and determination.
And now you know my story, my professional history, my mission, and hopefully, me.
My mission is to guide people to not die with their music still inside of them.
Having achieved world-class status as a young athlete, I know first hand the struggle high performers go through and the impact these struggles, if not managed well, can have on their quality of life now and long term.
As a result, I am fully dedicated to supporting high performing leaders in sport develop in a healthy way so they can learn early on that their self-worth is not determined by their achievements.
My life’s work has resulted in a strategic roadmap methodology I coined The 7 Roots of Potential™.
This approach maximizes their performance but more importantly, leads them to enjoy healthier and more constructive lives long term.
Are you a social leader, sports executive, pro head coach, or pro athlete who wants to focus on creating a high performance culture in your institution, not just prove your self-worth through trophies, diplomas, 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 us all to re-invent ourselves and institutions we serve through. Our leadership positions offer 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.