Is it natural talent or do you choose great performance?

Is it natural talent that generates great performance or do you choose great performance?

I recently came across this article written by Geoff Colvin, senior editor of Fortune magazine.

In this article, Geoff brings to our attention the concept of “deliberate practice” that differentiates high performers from good performers. The article summarizes deliberate practice as having these elements:

  1. Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance. That is practice that extends a person beyond their comfort zone, identifying those elements of performance that need to be improved and then working intently on them.
  2. Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot. What this means is choosing the activity and them repeating it over and over again.
  3. Feedback on results is continuously available. What is identified here is getting feedback from outsiders who you value. It is about having someone else hold up the mirror for you.
  4. It’s highly demanding mentally. Deliberate practice is all about focus and concentration, being mindful of your intent and doing it.
  5. It’s hard. What makes it hard is focusing on what you’re not good at, identifying the activities that will make you better and then forcing ourselves and getting others to provide feedback on what is working, not working and what needs changing. It is that focus on the details and repeating the process over and over that makes it hard.
  6. Doing the pre-work and setting goals. The goal setting here is not just about outcome. It includes the processes you will take to reach the outcome. It is about the specific and detailed plans and steps that you take.
  7. Self observation. It’s about focusing on what is happening to you, monitoring your thoughts and emotions, observing your impact on others.
  8. Assessing your performance. This refers to setting standards that stretch you beyond your current limits and then doing the self assessment against those standards. From that assessment you can adapt the way you act for that next experience. It is about looking inside and seeing what is possible.

The big aha moment for me in reading this article is about the importance that each of us play as leaders to invest in what is required to foster great performance. It is about getting clear on the behaviors that are required to up your performance, seeking specific feedback, having the coaching and mentoring support to make it happen and doing the hard, deliberate work to observe and change the behavior from the inside out.

So what do you see in this article? What does this article ask of you to achieve your great performance?


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