We have all been told at some point in our lives that hard work is what determines success. While IQ, natural ability, and a supportive environment all play a role it is hard work that takes us into the realm of high performance and the greatest achievement.
“We see everywhere that years of hardwork do not make most people great at what they do. The vast majority of people we work with, or play golf with, or play Doom with, got better for a while and then leveled off, having apparently reached the limit of their abilities; years of further work have not made them any better. On the other hand, we see repeatedly that the people who have achieved the most are the ones who have worked the hardest. How can both sets of observations be true?” (Colvin, p. 62)
This is where “Deliberate Practice” comes into play. “Deliberate practice is characterized by several elements, each worth examining. It is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports: and it isn’t much fun”. (Colvin, p. 66)
Over and over again in history we have seen individuals rise above the rest after years of deliberate practice. Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice both had early setbacks and through deliberate practice came back to arguably be the best ever at what they did. A different example is Tiger Woods who had a teacher (his father) that put Tiger on a path of “Deliberate Practice” starting at two years old. By 19, he had achieved a level of greatness in golf that mesmerized the world.
There are numerous other examples in business, comedy, music, and everyday life.
It all boils down to top performers develop a way to overcome limitations through focus, time, and repetition. This leads to developing an ability to see more. “Just as top tennis players look at the server’s body, not at the tennis ball, excellent performers in other fields have learned to spot non obvious information that’s important.” (Colvin, p. 89)
In business, an example of this type behavior is Sam Walton (Walmart) who realized one of the best indicators to measure customer satisfaction was to measure how happy his employees were. The way the employee was managed is the way the employee would treat the customer (a lesson the company might want to reflect on). (Colvin p. 89)
So, if you believe that your performance is forever limited by your lack of a specific innate gift, or by a lack of general abilities at a level that you think must be necessary, then there’s no chance at all that you will do the work. That’s why this belief is tragically constraining. Everyone who has achieved exceptional performance has encountered terrible difficulties along the way. There are no exceptions.
Above all, what evidence shouts most loudly is striking, liberating news: that great performance is not reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.” Colvin, p. 206)
Today is a new day. Embrace the moment and rise above predetermined limitations you believe are there. Practice deliberately and with complete focus on the task at hand and look ahead for indicators that could potentially lead you, or your business another direction due to unforeseen obstacles. In time, you will go from good to great and momentum will build in all areas of your life.
For more insight on this topic, I suggest you read the below book.
Colvin, Geoff. Talent Is Overrated. What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else. 2008.