Posts Tagged ‘development’

Who Wants To Be A Superstar?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I have point to make: I could take just about anyone and turn them into a superstar. And just to be clear, it’s not just me that could do it. You could, too. Laszlo Polgar proved it by developing three sisters into the greatest women chess players of all time.

I’m tired of hearing about athletes, musicians, artists, and business people who were apparently born with some special talent. I’m here to say it doesn’t work like that. High performers were not born that way. They developed into high performers.

Study after study in recent years, especially a series of them by Anders Ericsson, have shown that high performers in a variety of activities developed their talent through very focused, deliberate, hard work. Practice leads to talent; birth doesn’t.

From Mozart to Michael Jordan, from Steve Jobs to Roger Federer, the key to high performance was and is not what one is born with, but what one does with what they’re born with.

But it’s not just practice. It’s strategic practice that makes the difference. In a study of violinists, what separated the average from the great is that the latter practiced more. As much as eight times as much, in fact. The surprising finding of the study is what separated the greats from those who are even better – the superstars. The super-high performers practiced no more than the greats. But it was the quality of the practice that made the difference. The superstars practiced the real challenging, difficult, unpleasant stuff, and they were more strategic in how they practiced.

And that’s where I come in. I could take practically anyone, and with the right strategic practice, could turn that person into a high performer. My job is developing the right practice strategy.

The next time someone talks about natural talent, stop them. Why? Because by labeling someone as having talent, you insult them. You may even encourage the person to practice less. After all, if the person was born with natural talent, they don’t need to practice.

Instead of complimenting a person on their natural talent, compliment them on all the hard, strategic work they put into developing their skills.

High performance has more to do with the skills and talent one develops through hard work and strategic practice. And that’s why you or I could take just about anyone and turn them into a superstar. It’s all about creating the right development plan.

This also means that you’re capable of superstar performance – if you’re not quite there already.

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