Are you depriving the world of your gifts because you are afraid you’re “not enough”?
Tell me something, where are you reading this letter from? Are you sitting on the sidelines of your best life or are you playing with passion?
Life is really just a game without competition. Winning is, did you live the life you most wanted to?
I love to figure out the strategy of this game. I love the challenge of planning how to reach a goal, of seeing the big picture and then breaking it down into tiny steps until they are so small that I think “oh, I can do THAT”
I love practice and working hard, maybe because I’ve never felt that I possessed more than average talent for any particular thing and it allows me to hope. Hee, hee, hee!
And as I’ve told you before in this newsletter, I have a belief that if you deeply desire something , work hard ,and are resourceful, that it is possible somehow, some way, to have what you really want.
I’ve certainly seen that to be true in big ways in my own life, but I could never explain how lots of people (including myself sometimes) work very hard and do not get what they want.
Sometimes I find myself asking: Do I just not have enough talent? Am I not smart enough? Not worthy enough? Or in some cosmic accounting- just not good enough?
In a book I’ve been enjoying called Talent is Overrated, the author lays out the research on the highly exceptional and “talented” superstar performers from sports to chess, art, business, etc.
What makes them so extraordinarily different? The research again and again led straight to one common denominator in every single field.
I’d always thought that the great masters of business or music or sports possessed uncommon talent or intelligence, or sacrificed everything else on their rise to the top. It turns out that the people who rise to the highest levels aren’t fundamentally very different from you or I, but they do, DO something very different.
In fact many of them had some sort of “handicap” (physical size, learning disability, environment) that would have made them a less than likely candidate for the extraordinary level of success they achieved.
So what is this their secret to stratospheric levels of success?
Well it’s not just hard work, but a specific kind of hard work called “deliberate practice”. High performers practice with a purpose. They have a very narrow focus related to achieving very specific results and they practice THAT relentlessly until they can do it easily. They are focused more on the daily process and small results than on the larger goal.
They do have a BIG goal that they draw inspiration from and plan their efforts, but they are focused on practicing tiny, tiny little improvements.
Do they work really hard? You bet. In fact the author makes the point that the most successful are the hardest workers. They put in more time and they focus more intently than their peers. They study with coaches, mentors, or teachers what key elements will make the biggest difference in performance. They trade in plain old working hard, for working smart – really consistently!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not likely to become a chess grand master, or even that much better at golf so what does this have to do with we mortals?
Well for me it means that those goals that I am passionate about, I CAN bust through old limitations. I CAN excel in ways I haven’t even dreamed of through the power of targeted practice. I CAN stop wasting time worrying about “am I talented enough?” and get on with the business of focusing on the small step by step practice that makes such a huge difference
Hard work with meaning and focus. It’s always been available to each of us, but the high performers pick it up and make it personal.
And you know, I notice that with the things I’m passionate about, working hard and practicing are just part of the joy of the whole process.
What would it mean to win Wimbledon, or put your business on the map, or raise a good kid if you didn’t have to really stretch your mind and your soul to get there?
Not very much!
If you’ve been putting off doing something because, secretly, you’re afraid you don’t have what it takes, ask yourself these questions:
What if it all it really took was bringing a sharper focus to your actions?
Are you passionate enough about your goal that sweating for it would be satisfying?
Enjoy playing. It’s all a game anyway.