Practice makes perfect!

Talent is overrated – Geoff Colvin, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Talent is overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin

I read quite a lot of books about business. I read them once and then move along. However there have been few books that I keep getting back to, rereading them every once in a while. They are just so good and entertaining – usually I always learn something new from them.  I believe that Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin is one of these books.

The book digs deeply into the question “what truly makes a great performer?” Everywhere in our society you can come face to face with the common belief that there are us normal people and then there are those few with some special “god-given” talents. Colvin aims to bust this myth completely. He manages to show that very often it is not a special gifts or abilities that separate us from the best – but simply the hard work.

The book is incredibly packed with information. Colvin goes trough in the book what talent is and isn’t – proving that in many cases it is the deliberate practice what makes a talent. He then proceeds to explain what deliberate practice means and how it works. After defining the terms, he gives suggestions how to aim for talent-like abilities yourself or with your organization. In the end a look will be taken at the psychology behind the will to take you trough the harsh and difficult path to great achievement.

It is without a doubt one of the best – if not the best business book I have read in a while. I especially love the psychology parts where the author discusses about those small little things that in the end make it possible for a talent to be created.

This book does have some problems too.

I would have loved to see more cases about the application of the deliberate practice in both my own use as well as for an organization. Also I always had the feeling that I forget things as fast as I turn over to the next page. The way the book is structured, it is hard to memorize it. This lead into taking notes – I have over 6 pages of them.

Here I share some of them with you and to be more specific – some of my notes of the most important chapter in the whole book: “how to apply given principles in your own life”. These are not something completely new to everyone, but they can make the difference between good and the best.

Three models of deliberate practice:

The Music model

  • When you practise something, do not just run over it few times. Instead be extensive. Break your blog post/presentation/drawing to smaller parts and analyse it. Where are the things you could improve?
  • Find similar things made by others and analyse & learn from them.

The Chess model

Know the subject you engage beforehand. Even if you have had no practice in it, studying cases can help with this and you can buy them easily online or from bookstores.

The Sports model

  • Get back to basics – as an example for a finance person practising basic math is like push-ups for sportsman. If you don’t do them regularly, your performance drops.
  • Repeated practice makes you better with unpredictable opponents and dynamic situations. You could practice sales situations, negotiations etc. with either someone or using business simulations.

As an end-note I found this book very interesting and definitely worth a read, especially if you are interested in self-development.  It talks about the subject rather broadly and gives you breath taking amount of information and suggestions of improving your own practices. Good value for you money!

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