I’ve been listening to our young rooster at crowing practice for a week. Poor guy. He was born to crow, designed to crow and it’s his purpose in life to crow. But if I had recorded his first few practice sessions, you would be highly entertained. He was hilarious – sounded both sick and silly at the same time. He’s been at it consistently and he has improved. But his “cock a doodle doo” is still pitiful. Who knew that roosters have to practice?
The Deciding Factor Between Success and Mediocrity
What’s the difference between a pianist and someone who just plays the piano? Practice.
What about running; are you a “runner” just because you can break into a sprint if something is chasing you? Or is it when you intentionally and consistently run that you’re actually “a runner”?
It’s easy to look at top performers in any field and admire their gifts and talents. But how much of that actually contributes to remarkable success?
Talent is Overrated
So says Geoff Colvin, author of the book, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Colvin builds a case that the proven road to success is based on deliberate practice rather than natural giftedness.
It’s interesting to study the real story behind extraordinary performers from Mozart to Tiger Woods. They have a lot in common. Most stars were coached and groomed from a VERY early age by parents who were focused mentors and coaches. In fact, Colvin proposes that becoming extremely good at anything is almost impossible without a teacher or coach, at least in the early going. Without a clear, unbiased view of performance, developing the appropriate practice activity is almost impossible. The challenge is to identify one or two sharply defined areas that need to be improved along with a strategy for deliberate practice. Practice without feedback is particularly ineffective.
Out of the Comfort Zone – For Life
Deliberate practice demands getting out of your comfort zone. Only activities that keep us in the learning zone are going to contribute to growth and improvement. However natural it is to want to stay in our comfort zone, the pull of the comfort zone can lull us into the sand trap of mediocrity. There are three zones: the comfort zone, the learning zone and the panic zone. Excellence comes by consistently living in the learning zone.
Doing things we do well is inevitably enjoyable. Thus, a qualification of effective practice is that it’s not particularly enjoyable because it’s hard! The willingness to consistently do an activity that is not easy or fun, is the most distinguishing characteristic that identifies the best from the rest.
The Power of Persistence and Determination
“Nothing in the world can take the place of
persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more
common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius
will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated
derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are
omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and
always will solve the problems of the human race.”
~ Calvin Coolidge
The revelation that talent is overrated can either intimidate you or motivate you. Either way, it strips away excuses.