What it Takes to be Great
As a college professor, I am frequently asked by students "How do I get an A in your class?" When they learn what it takes - studying and doing well on exams - the question often becomes, "What do I need to do to pass the class?"
There are countless reasons why people, students and business leaders alike, lower their expectations. They may lack the time needed to improve, are unwilling to exert the necessary effort, or fear failure.
For many people, however, being average seems inevitable. When we witness the feats of professional athletes or serve under an exceptionally bright manager, it's easy to believe they possess some innate talent that most of us do not have. They are special; we are not.
Such thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Convinced that we lack the ability to excel, we settle for being good, rather than becoming great.
Fortunately, superior performance has very little to do with giftedness. The research is unequivocal on this point - great people are made, not born.
So how does one become great?
Discover your passion. It's not easy to become great. It takes years of hard work and self-sacrifice. To sustain this level of effort requires that you are passionate about what you are doing.
Famed expertise researcher, Anders Ericsson sums up the connection between passion and performance this way: “When it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love — because if you don’t love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good.”
Quite simply, passion is the engine that drives excellence. Without it, one cannot excel. What is your passion? Are you following it?
Practice smart. High achievers are smart about how they work - the key is where they put their focus. Instead of practicing their existing strengths – a characteristic of amateurs - experts focus on improving what they are not good at.
Elite performers spend years engaged in a deliberate form of practice, which involves identifying and eliminating weaknesses, learning new skills, and acquiring a deep well of knowledge about their field. It’s not an easy process. But, according to three decades of research, it is the only way to become an expert in your field and produce top outcomes. If you want to achieve optimal performance, this is the way to do it.
Covet Feedback. You don't know how well you are doing unless you evaluate your performance objectively. In their relentless pursuit of excellence, elite performers crave feedback and adjust their performance accordingly. Because self-assessment is notoriously inaccurate, coaching is needed. Skilled coaches make all the difference. They provide unvarnished assessments of your performance, design training programs that target specific deficiencies, and motivate you to persevere. If you want to perform at a world class level, you need a coach.
Every person can excel, but it takes passion, deliberate practice, and honest feedback. What do you need to do today to begin your journey to greatness?
© 2012 Frank Niles Ph.D. | frankniles.com
Read Frank's article in Chief Learning Officer magazine: online or pdf.
CLICK HERE FOR BOOKING INFORMATION