Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The divide between great achievers and mediocre performers

Wisest is he who knows he does not know. ~Socrates

The Social Animal
I've been doing a slow, savoring read of David Brooks book The Social Animal. I've marked it up so much that I might need to buy another copy.

Brooks, a news writer, author, political commentator, and analyst, is a gifted storyteller. In this book he took research and integrated it into the story of Erica and Harold. He takes us through the trials and tribulations of their lifetime experiences as children, young adults, business partners, and spouses.

Although many things from the book resonated with me, the following was particularly powerful and timely:
"The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not divine spark. Instead, what really matters is the ability to get better and better gradually over time."
He continues with saying:
"Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously honing their craft...top performers devote five times more hours to become great than the average performers devote to become competent."
He also continues with differentiating the amount of time committed and the type of work the performers do during that time:
"Mediocre performers practice in the most pleasant way possible. Great achievers practice in the most deliberate and self-critical way. Often they break their craft down to its smallest constituent parts, and then they work on one tiny piece of the activity over and over again."
The point is not to just spend time practicing but also be thoughtful about what you're practicing. There is value to repetition. It's this repetition that becomes "muscle memory" or reflexive like I mentioned in my previous post.

Brooks mentions that in The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, he said, "Every skill is a form of memory."

So get out there and practice presently and thoughtfully. Imagine how good you will feel and the good you can do with being the best you can be your craft.

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