November 17, 2010

Self Improvement & The Talent Myth

tennis player

Your self improvement is dependent on a number of factors, 95% of which are entirely within your control. I work in an industry where someone’s excellence is often publicly observed – a tv presenter, a radio host, an author, journalist, politician, sports person, musician, speaker or a CEO or corporate leader.

We’ve all heard comments like ‘she’s just SO capable’, or ‘he’s such a gifted singer’. But here’s the thing … why is it that the most talented people are also the ones who happen to have put in the most hours?

What you see when someone appears to be displaying a great talent in the time you spend with them, is barely the tip of the iceberg of their story.

A 10-year old tennis ‘genius’ is certainly an awesome spectacle. However, seeing a ball, reading an opponent, selecting the right grip, choosing a return shot and and hitting it with conviction are all learned responses. You see, when his peers were riding their bikes, playing their play stations, sleeping in late and swapping their football cards, he was on the tennis court. Hour after hour dedicated to his sport, rain or shine, loving the challenges, celebrating the breakthroughs and over time, reaping the rewards.

When a person is fully engaged (that’s the secret!) in the process of excellence, focussed on their personal development and ultimate vision – that’s when their rise to recognition in their sector is fast-tracked.

Experts have passion for their subject area whether it’s art, music, business, parenting, cooking, sport, science or engineering. And one thing my experience has shown me time after time is that hours, days, weeks, months and years dedicated to a vision is guaranteed to pay off over time.

Two things that all successful people have in common:

  • They’ve practiced their skill for thousands of hours
  • They’ve been purposeful in their self improvement (that is, they’ve been active in stretching themselves out of their comfort zone on a regular basis in order to reach the outer-limits of their present capabilites).

There are no tricks, no short cuts and no secret formulas to sharing your calling with the world. There’s only passion, commitment, steady growth and … one day… celebrating the reality of the vision that drove you on year after year.

So, be encouraged … if you want it so bad you can taste it … keep going. Every hour you invest in purposeful practice is a step closer. YOU are no less capable than Winston Churchill, Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Piccasso, Coldplay, Einstein or Bill Gates.

I see your brilliance!

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