Talent is Overrated – Part Five

athleteAthletes work on various categories to improve their skill. They must perform each practice differently as there are many situations they will face. Many benefits come from rereading books after you’re in your field, or specific conditioning books or videos for athletes. Build strengths that make all your strengths possible and specific skill development can be applied for athletes as well as in business. Improve a specific aspect of your performance by utilizing a mentor or someone who will listen or watch you. This is a genuine advance in making a valuable type of practice easy and accessible.

Practicing in the work provides opportunities to practice business skills directly and are far more available than we usually realize. We all face a different way to practice skills and that is by finding practice in the work itself, which is to repeat a different kind of activity. “Self-regulation” is using different things to make you better. Effective self-regulation is something you do before, during and after the work activity itself. Before the work, self-regulation begins with setting goals – not big goals but immediate goals you will be doing that day. Poor performers don’t set goals at all. Mediocre performers set goals that are general and simply focus on a good outcome. The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process of reaching the outcome. Doing whatever the requirements of work may demand that day, but within that activity, the best performers are focused on how they can get better at some specific element of the work. With a goal set the next pre-work step is planning how to reach the goal. The best performers make the most specific technique plans and how they are going to get where they are going. Figuring out specific goals and plans is hard and doing it consistently requires high motivation. The best performers go into their work with the ability to perform and believe strongly all their work will pay off for them.

During the work the most important self-regulatory skill that top performers use is self-observation. Endurance runners in a race tend to think about anything other than what they are doing as it’s painful and they want to take their minds off of it. Elite runners focus intensely on themselves counting their breath and strides in order to maintain certain ratios. The same principle applies in mental work. The best performers observe themselves closely, step outside themselves, monitor what is happening in their own minds and ask how it’s going. It is known as metacognition – an understanding of one’s own thought process – knowledge about your own knowledge, thinking about your own thinking. It is an established part of top performers. Metacognition helps top performers find practice opportunities in evolving situations. It provides the ability to observe themselves and do what they are doing and practice what they are doing. Continue reading

Talent is Overrated – Part Four

How deliberate practice works, the specific ways it changes us and how that makes all the difference. The evidence is strong that the right kind of practice can turn someone into an exceptional performer. How does it happen is similar to knowing what makes a car engine run – you have to completely understand it. The most important effect of practice in great performers is that it takes them beyond the limitations that most of us think of as critical. It enables them to perceive more, know more and remember more than most people with years of deliberate practice as it actually changes the body and the brain. We see great performers fundamentally different from us even though they didn’t start out that way.

Perceiving more. Top performers, such as those in sports, can figure out what’s going to happen before others. Excellent performers see more by developing better and a faster understanding of what they see. Expert radiologists performed better and picked out more specific relevant features than resident radiologists – the difference was what the experts perceived. Top performers perceive more and understand the significance of indicators average people do not. Sam Walton measured how happy his customers were by knowing how happy his employees were. A happy employee will pass that mindset onto the customer. Top performers look further ahead and know what lies ahead for them. Any business should ask where will they be in five years. Major companies look beyond the numbers and look further into the future. But getting information takes time and money. Making sound decisions is a competitive advantage everywhere and top performers learn the ability for decisions critical to their field. Police officers decide whether to shoot in split decisions and quarterbacks know when to throw the ball and where. It can be advantageous for a business like Wall Street to make fast decisions with sparse information. Seeing differences that others don’t see is another way of perceiving more. These crucial abilities are a result of training and practice. Deliberate practice works by helping acquire the specific abilities needed to excel in a given field. Continue reading

Talent is Overrated – Part Three

How smart do you have to be – the true role of intelligence and memory in high achievement. The average amount of numbers someone remembers is seven to nine digits. One individual had the ability to remember 22 digits and eventually trained and practiced until he had the ability to remember over three times as many. This shows a person of average general abilities can extend to unimaginable abilities. Memory and general intelligence is widely regarded as a key skill for great performers. What does smart mean is especially true in business. Warren Buffett is famous for doing complicated math in his head and
claims not to own a calculator. Certain people come into this world with specific gifts for business. Many still assume that these individuals (like Buffett) possess general abilities in intelligence and memory and that those individuals have proved the point. Research doesn’t support the view that extraordinary natural general abilities are necessary for high achievement. The connection between general intelligence and specific abilities is weak and sometimes nonexistence. Memory ability is created rather than innate. The idea it is an inborn gift doesn’t seem to hold up.

What do we mean when we say someone is smart – some are smart with numbers or words or others with concrete knowledge. If you sat down and thought about it you would come up with a basic definition of IQ. IQ testing doesn’t measure and explain critical thinking, social skills, honesty, tolerance or wisdom. General intelligence is measured by IQ and works fairly well how students will do in school. Average IQ increases with the complexity of the work and smarter people do better. Even if the world’s great performers don’t possess a specific targeted gift they still have more general natural advantage – superior intelligence. We all know someone who has been successful in the business world without revealing the presence of conventional brain power. It is not genuine intelligence. IQ and achievement aren’t nearly as strong as what studies used to suggest.

A common scenario with the business world is betting on horses. You study the facts, estimate the odds and decide where to put your money. Experts in horse betting showed no significant differences in high or lower IQ’s but rather the number of years spent at the track. A high IQ didn’t seem to matter. But accurately forecasting the odds is complex and those with a higher IQ engaged in higher models, i.e., the condition of the track and other variables typically not considered by someone with less IQ. IQ test measurements do not factor the ability to engage in reasoning. But it is a description of what we do in our daily lives and what the best performers do exceptionally well. IQ doesn’t predict performance. IQ is a predictor of performance of a particular task but once someone has been on a job for a number of years, IQ predicts little or nothing about performance. The link between intelligence and high achievement isn’t nearly as powerful as commonly thought. A high IQ is not a prerequisite to extraordinary achievement.

How is your memory – the evidence is similar when it comes to that other general ability we often associate with successful people – an amazing memory. Memory ability is acquired. Average people can achieve extraordinary memory ability by developing their own retrieval structures or if given by researchers, which reinforces that memory is developed and is not innate. Highly accomplished people have tremendous memories is justified, but that they have a rare and natural gift is not justified. It is available to anyone. Off the chart memory is not necessary for extraordinary achievement. We are not stuck with the traits we have, aside from physical or health constraints, which is profoundly opposed to what most of us believe based on what we were or were not born with. What makes some go further than others – specifically it isn’t experience as evidence proves that some get worse after years of working in their field. The evidence questions whether such abilities exist and clearly does not determine excellence. People who possess abilities of this type do not necessarily achieve high performance, and there are many examples of people showing no evidence of such abilities, who have produced extraordinary achievement. The research finds that in many fields the relation between intelligence and performance is weak or nonexistence. Memory seems clearly to be acquired. Continue reading

Talent is Overrated – Part Two

It isn’t just companies that are facing challenges. We all individually face challenges as the pressure on us to get better is greater than what it used to be due to the change in our economy. Companies have far more money than what they need today and are unsure what to do with it. The scarce resource is no longer money, it’s human ability. Microsoft has used 30 billion dollars of financial capital from all sources and has created about 221 billion dollars of shareholder wealth. Google has used five billion dollars of capital but has around 124 billion dollars of shareholder wealth. Microsoft and Google understand perfectly well that their success is built on human camicrosoftpital and both are famous for the people they hire and the brutal tests they impose on job applicants. Bill Gates said if you took the 20 smartest people out of Microsoft it would be an insignificant company. Microsoft says its core competency is hiring, not their software. They know what the scarce resource is, which is so significant and applies to all companies. This is putting a separate trend on individuals under unprecedented pressure to develop their own abilities more highly than what was ever necessary before. This is apart from what their employers may or may not do to develop them. It’s setting a trend of the large scale global labor market. Today, people compete for jobs around the world. A large and growing proportion of all work is information based and doesn’t involve moving or processing anything physical. This has generated workers in other countries answering our calls, computing power and telecommunications costs for practically nothing. A fast number of workers have to be just as good and just as good of value as anyone in their field. Businesses and individuals are increasingly going up against the world’s best and creating rewards of being genuinely great. And it is crucial to understand where great performance comes from. There is more to life than work and more to work at than a job. Reach fulfillment in your life and your career and realize that most of what you want to do is hard – that’s life. Having any real knowledge of what you want to do can make you richer and happier. Continue reading

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin – Part One

Ftalent is overratedollowing is a review of the book Talent is Overrated written by Geoff Colvin. Colvin is an author and Senior Editor at Large for Fortune Magazine. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, teachers, coaches, students and others have felt the power of this book’s message in their own lives and found new ways to get better at what’s most important to them. It’s a business book that prompts
you to change your mindset for the way to think about your job and career and inspire you to achieve more in all you do. His key is from practice, how you practice and how you learn from mistakes which will enable greatness. Greatness doesn’t come from DNA but from practice, which is Colvin’s primary message that people are not born with all the natural talent and abilities that will make them great in life. He asserts anyone can get better with the right kind of “deliberate practice” in a chosen field.

This book certainly gave me a different perspective on how athletes and top business people became so successful. After reading this book I also developed a better understanding of my own son’s passion to become a successful business entrepreneur and what it takes to become a great performer in a field. He devoted every extra minute he had and spent endless nights working on his internet business. That passion to grow and devotion of hard work and practice paid off in his career and personal life. It almost falls into Dave Ramsey’s similar practice of work like no one else so you can work like no one else!

The mystery. Great performance is more valuable than ever but where does it come from. Look at those around you, friends or family, and think about how they spend their day. Few if any of those around us are truly great at what they do. Most are good conscientious people and do their jobs well but that is not enough to create greatness. Work is our real priority, yet after all those hours and years, most people are just okay in what they do. Many people fail to become outstandingly good at what they do no matter how many years they work in a field, and frequently don’t get any better than what they were when they started. Field after field, people were not any better at their jobs and, occasionally, people can actually get worse with experience. Studies have shown that a few more experienced doctors actually score less on tests of medical knowledge than less experienced doctors. Auditors can become less skilled at certain types of evaluations.

Why are some people so excellent at what they do – the first belief is that everyone thinks it is due to hard work. A person will get extremely good at something because they work hard at. We tell our kids if they work hard, they will be fine. Which is basically right, they’ll be fine just like others who work at something most of their lives and get along fine but never become particularly good at it. Putting in the years isn’t much help to becoming a great performer. This instinctive answer does not hold up. The second belief is that those who are naturally talented and gifted came into this world inspired. The natural gift explanation of a God-given talent is not handed out every day and that it’s a one in a million God-given talent. This belief takes the natural talent out of our hands even though great performance is in our hands more than what most realize. Research studies are contradicting what is believed about gifted people. No one is a naturally born, talented and gifted person. Many assume some have above average IQ’s, but most do not and many are just average. Research shows “deliberate practice” creates greatness. Deliberate practice is not what most of us do when we think of practicing golf. Deliberate practice is hard, it hurts, but it works. More of it generates better performance and tons of it equals great performance.

Deliberate practice is hard and in some cases not inherently enjoyable, yet many people still put themselves through it. It is apparent that most people put themselves through it due to the trend of the rapidly rising standards in most careers. Even the purchase of a car, which can now run 200,000 miles as opposed to cars running only 50,000 miles years ago. Businesses have to perform at the highest standard and get continually better just to be competitive. Great performance is becoming more valuable. This trend is the same in every field of individual performance. For example, the Olympic records of 100 years ago equals below average performance by high school athletes today. The winner of the men’s 200 meter race in the 1908 Olympics ran it in 22.6 seconds and today’s high school record is faster by more than two seconds. And it isn’t because of size, the smaller you are the better you are; size and power are irrelevant. Contemporary athletes are superior not because they are different but because they train themselves differently, an important concept to remember. Calculus was thought to take years to master and is now taught in high school. People are doing much more with what they have and standards of performance will continue to rise increasing the value of great performance.

It isn’t just companies that are facing challenges. We all individually face challenges as the pressure on us to get better is greater than what it used to be due to the change in our economy. Companies have far more money than what they need today and are unsure what to do with it. The scarce resource is no longer money, it’s human ability. Microsoft has used 30 billion dollars of financial capital from all sources and has created about 221 billion dollars of shareholder wealth. Google has used five billion dollars of capital but has around 124 billion dollars of shareholder wealth. Microsoft and Google understand perfectly well that their success is built on human capital and both are famous for the people they hire and the brutal tests they impose on job applicants. Bill Gates said if you took the 20 smartest people out of Microsoft it would be an insignificant company. Microsoft says its core competency is hiring, not their software. They know what the scarce resource is, which is so significant and applies to all companies. This is putting a separate trend on individuals under unprecedented pressure to develop their own abilities more highly than what was ever necessary before. This is apart from what their employers may or may not do to develop them. It’s setting a trend of the large scale global labor market. Today, people compete for jobs around the world. A large and growing proportion of all work is information based and doesn’t involve moving or processing anything physical. This has generated workers in other countries answering our calls, computing power and telecommunications costs for practically nothing. A fast number of workers have to be just as good and just as good of value as anyone in their field. Businesses and individuals are increasingly going up against the world’s best and creating rewards of being genuinely great. And it is crucial to understand where great performance comes from. There is more to life than work and more to work at than a job. Reach fulfillment in your life and your career and realize that most of what you want to do is hard – that’s life. Having any real knowledge of what you want to do can make you richer and happier.