Personal Growth and Development Barriers; What It Takes To Be Great

A common personal growth and development barrier is believing talent is the only key to success. Here’s the belief-buster – talent is irrelevant to great success.

Talent Is Irrelevant to Success

Don’t believe me; believe British based researchers Howe, Davidson and Sluboda. They conclude in a recent study “the evidence we have surveyed. does not support that excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”

Most people learn quickly at first, and then slowly and finally stop developing completely. What are the key common traits that successful people share?

Overnight Success Takes Ten Years

The first major conclusion is that nobody is great with out work. There is no evidence of high level performance without experience or practice, and some researchers have coined this the “ten year rule”. In many fields, elite performance takes 20 or 30 years before reaching their prime.

So what about teen sensation Bobby Fischer, a chess grandmaster at age 16? Turns out he had 9 years of intensive study. Tiger Woods was introduced to golf at the tender age of 18 months, and had racked up 15 years of experience when he became the youngest ever winner of the US Amateur Championship, at age 18.

“Genius is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration”

Thomas Edison, a prolific inventor, adds to his famous quote “accordingly, a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework”

So your first step to greatness is hard work. Agreed. But not just any old hard work, it needs to be focussed, deliberate practice. Instead of doggedly doing the same thing over and over again, consider activities that are explicitly intended to improve performance and provide feedback on results.

Professor K Anders Ericsson of Florida State University notes “elite performers in many diverse domains have been found to practice, on the average, roughly the same amount every day, including weekends”. Ericsson studied many different people in different areas, and the best averaged 10,000 hours of deliberate practice over their lives; the next best 7,500 hours and the next 5,000.

To make this real, you need to commit 85 minutes every day for the next ten years of your life to get the bronze – 2 hours and 45 minutes if you want a chance at gold. That’s commitment!

You’ve Either Got It – Or You Don’t.. Or Do You?

Okay you could argue some important traits are inherited, such as height or intelligence, but that again doesn’t hold in all cases. Ericsson found “some international chess masters have IQ‘s in their 90’s.” Michael Jordon, an esteemed basketball player, was cut from his high school team, but practised intensely, beyond the already punishing training schedules.

Some people are more motivated than others to put in the hard-graft. Why? No-one seems to know, and the rub is we hate abandoning the notion that we would coast to fame and riches if only we found our talent. But a more liberating notion is that regular hard work, deliberate practice and feedback can enable us to achieve our dreams, utilise our talents and achieve the greatness we desire.

Bust through that personal growth and development barrier and start using your day to achieve the greatness that’s available to us all.

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