Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

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Tony Schwartz

On: Managing yourself, Organizational culture, Work life balance

Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at and Tony Schwartz

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything
2:21 PM Tuesday August 24, 2010 | Comments ( 137)

I've been playing tennis for nearly five decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I'm far from the player I wish I were. I've been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I've taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play tennis nearly every day. My game has gotten progressively stronger. I've had a number of rapturous moments during which I've played like the player I long to be. And almost certainly could be, even though I'm 58 years old. Until recently, I never believed that was possible. For most of my adult life, I've accepted the incredibly durable myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts, and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance. During the past year, I've read no fewer than five books — and a raft of scientific research — which powerfully challenge that assumption (see below for a list). I've also written one, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, which lays out a guide, grounded in the science of high performance, to systematically building your capacity physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We've found, in our work with executives at dozens of organizations, that it's possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest. Aristotle Will Durant*, commenting on Aristotle, pointed out that the philosopher had it exactly right 2000 years ago: "We are what we repeatedly do." By relying on highly specific practices, we've seen our clients dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing. Like everyone who studies performance, I'm indebted to the extraordinary Anders Ericsson, arguably
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Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

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the world's leading researcher into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it's not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we're willing to work — something he calls "deliberate practice." Numerous researchers now agree that 10,000 hours of such practice as the minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain. There is something wonderfully empowering about this. It suggests we have remarkable capacity to influence our own outcomes. But that's also daunting. One of Ericsson's central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient in achieving excellence, but also the most difficult and the least intrinsically enjoyable. If you want to be really good at something, it's going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That's true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you've earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying. Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients: 1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. 2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions. 3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day. 4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning. 5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs. 6. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

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Make Meetings Work: Fight the PowerPoint Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything How Will You Measure Your Life? The Increasing Importance of Physical Location The Four Capacities Every Great Leader Needs (And Very Few Have) Seven Truths about Change to Lead By and Live By












I have practiced tennis deliberately over the years, but never for the several hours a day required to achieve a truly high level of excellence. What's changed is that I don't berate myself any longer for falling short. I know exactly what it would take to get to that level. I've got too many other higher priorities to give tennis that attention right now. But I find it incredibly exciting to know that I'm still capable of getting far better at tennis — or at anything else — and so are you.

Here are the recent books on this subject: Talent is Overrated by Geoffrey Colvin. My personal favorite. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell The Genius in All of Us by David Schenk. Bounce by Mathew Syed

* Thanks to commenter Rick Thomas for pointing out the misattribution.


Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

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Tony Schwartz is president and CEO of The Energy Project. He is the author of the June, 2010 HBR article, "The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less," and coauthor, with Catherine McCarthy, of the 2007 HBR article, "Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time." Tony is also the author of the new book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance" (Free Press, 2010).
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Fábio Franco

2 months ago

While I agree that practice leads to mastery, I don't agree that natural talent is out of the equation. There are numerous examples that some perform better with less effort. Some learn faster some things and learn other things slower. I beleive everyone has specific areas they perform well or produce better.
Shashank Tripathi and 48 more liked this Like Reply


2 months ago in reply to Fábio Franco

What are examples of people who've achieved greatness with less effort? I see no evidence for that.
15 people liked this. Like Reply


2 months ago in reply to Tony

Tony, I think Usain Bolt is excellent example of effortless excellence. Watch him run without a facial tension. It is incredible how he does this.


at least in the west we have 99% pushers who at the end pay incredible price for their "wining game" ulcers. Pushers do create result. beyond the critical Self 2 is the PURE POTENTIAL within us. stealth like inner comments like: "you know nothing" "you made mistake again" "you are looser" "what have you done here". but they often burn very fast because the energy they invest is incredible. the masochist if you want. Joseph Fernandez. when we all start to function from this place. teachers and leaders learn to master this. the results are incredible and then the sky has no limit. IT IS IMPOSIBLE TO CREATE TOP PERFORMANCES IN CONDITIONS LIKE THIS. In tennis Roger Federer is very close to this I think. One of the fathers of modern coaching. Timmothy Gallway. PMP. Gallway cals him “Self 1”. I don’t think you care much about buttoning your shirt.. Fail to use the formula and rather find shortcuts to achieve effortless experience. trust me. on our MBA or PhD studies how to stay present and in touch with our true nature and potential. In my experience. This is the pusher. In the business. (his books the Inner "Game of Tennis" and the "Inner game of work" describe this very well) Self 2 is the pusher.html 10/28/2010 . write. 2 months ago in reply to COACH ERA You have some good points in your argument. and get feedback and enjoy every achievement you make on the way (even if it feels trivial). performance improvements and everything about reaching greatness starts with the first few consistent Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .including the harm to the systems around them. It comes naturally to you and that’s because you practiced early on. To tap the potential of Self 1. Innovation. like bull on the court. but hey. His game is “in the flow”. Look at all the greats. Repeat it and you will create greatness for yourself and it will eventually become an effortless experience.. the biggest enemy of the performer is his enemy within. Tony Schwartz highlights the importance of passion. you will see that they have put tens of thousands of hours into their life practicing.hbr. and play music early in their life while the others lag.skyisthelimit. patience. his game was hard and often not interesting to watch. my argument is that without ritualized practice you will never achieve effortless experience and move toward greatness. call this enemy "self 2". He tells (rather attacks us) with subtle. In summary. freeing his country in the way he did. In the article. it creates the best possible results. Some kids learn to read. What makes them stand apart from the crowd is skype:vikunovski viktor@skyisthelimit. No one teaches us in the west. wisdom and spiritual mastery.D. who was at no1 at one stage. When our managers. hearth (Edited by author 1 month ago) 33 people liked this. On the other side or I should say deep inside.Tony Schwartz . That is why many of us think that effortlessness does not create results.Harvard Business Review Page 4 of 32 Gandhi was another example. In the western culture we tend to be pushers. COACH ERA www.etc. MBA. The enemy within is also know as the inner critic or the super ego. perseverance and ritualized practice. you were taught to button your shirt. the person need to stay aware and present in a meditative “zen” like state of consciousness (this is the effortlessness). Like Reply Joseph Fernandez Viktor. Our cultural imprints and beliefs are so powerful that I think is hard to even imagine for a westerner that effortless can lead to greatness... One cannot achieve greatness unless one finds ways to practice. However. work hard and practice to achieve that passion. Contrary. it is easy to say than to do this since what I am describing requires incredible discipline. When you were a child. Jim Currier Was a good tennis player as well. Have the passion.. Viktor Kunovski Founder and M. However. you will spin your wheels and reach nowhere. but Jim was a pusher. I don’t think effortless experience can be achieved without practice and attitude. http://blogs. Effortlessness comes ones you have the confidence and the actions become habits.

I talk to many people who have looked for a possitive change in their personnal and professional lives. 2 people liked this. 1 week ago in reply to Joseph Fernandez I cannot agree with you more. Passion and consistency are a perfect combiniation to success. and the awareness is filled with presence. but he is the founder of Satyagraha which is both a philosophy and a practice. The students of Diamond Heart and other psycho-spiritual disciplines practice this trough meditations. sensing and open ended inquiry for minimum of 7 years. I perfectly agree with what you have said. patience. Like Reply COACH ERA 1 month ago in reply to Joseph Fernandez I totally agree on your comments Joseph. And this state is not an easy task. 6 people liked this. As we get older .Tony Schwartz .org/schwartz/2010/08/six-keys-to-being-excellent-at. wisdom and spiritual mastery.Harvard Business Review Page 5 of 32 20 people liked this. Like Reply http://blogs. Karachi Like Reply jek7788 1 month ago in reply to COACH ERA I find it interesting that Gandhi is cited as someone who achieved things with less effort. I may be biased. 1 person liked this. When we are younger we do what we have to do . MBA IBA. Somewhere in the text I mention " . Like Reply Lynn Svindland 1 month ago in reply to Joseph Fernandez At Certain stages of our lives passion becomes key.. 4 people liked this.. Shahzeb Saeed BBA. Nice comment.html 10/28/2010 . We need to be self aware in order to know what we can do best.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Like Reply Kwesi Sena 1 month ago in reply to COACH ERA That is a brilliant way to put it.requires incredible discipline. I have found passion in helping Seniors and look for those who want to also. Like Reply Shahzeb Saeed Dear Joseph. the body is relaxed. but I believe it is people like Viktor who makes even the simplest things on earth the most difficult and complicated.' Perhaps the way to clarify my thought would be to say that by effortless I mean a psycho-spiritual state in which the mind is sharp. we look for something we feel good about like helping others.hbr.

2 people liked however. 2 people liked this. and has been arguably the best player on the planet for the past couple of years. One need only think of the effect carpal tunnel syndrome has on keyboard abilities (both musical and typing) to realize that no amount of practice will ever overcome some physical limitations. Like Reply Terry Dillon 1 week ago in reply to Raguand Technically I would argue that 'Practice makes you better at what you practice' an important distinction. The way he does his outof-this-world dribbles and feints is certainly not because he puts in more effort than other players. 2 people liked this. Like Reply Chrissympb420 obama 1 month ago in reply to Tony Like Reply Aggrey 1 month ago in reply to Fábio Franco It takes much effort to build a talent. Like Reply Raguand 1 month ago in reply to Wared Another proof that Messi has been practicing for a long time and just like the cliche: "Practice makes perfection. Wared 1 person liked this. quite the contrary in fact. or (better said): know http://blogs.Harvard Business Review Page 6 of 32 Wared Tony. Do you really think that if the other millions of players put in the same level of effort as Messi. He is 23 years old now." Nobody can argue against this. 1 month ago in reply to Tony A lot of the examples used by people here can be hard to justify. Fábio.Tony Schwartz . It is of high importance. the old saying that practice makes it perfect still stands. Like Reply Boniface Makau 2 months ago in reply to Fábio Franco Agreed. Talent is a gift from God. Like Reply Ed Q 2 months ago in reply to Fábio Franco I agree completely. they would be in the same category as him? A short search on Youtube for videos of Lionel Messi as a 5 year-old with the ball at his feet will answer your doubts about natural talent and the role it plays in success.hbr. to learn your limitations. has been in Barcelona's first team since he was 16. However.html 10/28/2010 . However. have you ever seen Lionel Messi play? (football. or soccer). Use it well.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .

but. Like Reply leot 2 months ago in reply to Ed Q But "natural talent" does not mean "natural limitations". as a nineteen year old.Tony Schwartz . and professional . Shashank Tripathi and 14 more liked this Like Reply John 1 month ago in reply to Tony I can't say that a lot of good came from the Vietnam War.But we can not ignore the significance of practice. have no idea what our limitations are. 1 month ago in reply to Fábio Franco Like Reply Wei 1 month ago in reply to Fábio Franco How do you find out which talent interest that is worth of developing into a career? Like Reply Al 2 weeks ago in reply to Wei http://blogs. because we haven't pushed ourselves nearly hard enough to discover them.There is no denial that natural talent plays an important role in learning things.Without hard and that lesson has stood me in good stead. You can then tailor your goals with those in mind (whether you choose to fight them. real.html 10/28/2010 . Shashank Tripathi and 16 more liked this Like Reply Santhanam true 2 months ago in reply to Tony 1 person liked this. I'd argue. 1 person liked this.hbr. I've learned that my "limitations" .academic. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Ed Q More than 99 per cent of us. even the brightest mind may become a fool. Like Reply Lonniebsmith Talent is just the beginning.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . 2 people liked this. Limitations tangible. I was pushed far beyond what I perceived my limits to be.Harvard Business Review Page 7 of 32 your boundaries. Talent is magical. massage them or go around them) and make them part of your winnning game plan. physical. Like Reply junendure 1 week ago in reply to Fábio Franco I quite agree with u. emotional. non-normative.are far beyond where I initially thought they were. from a college dropout to a PhD.

I wrote about it in. Al Lavery www. It's all in our own hands.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . When you receive 'your answer' trust in the power of pursuit and greet every challenge with a sincere smile and positive thoughts of creating your destiny.LOVE YOUR DREAMS Like Reply Fr Ndepo 1 month ago in reply to Fábio Franco I do think most of the time they perform in things in which they find passion as said in the keys. of whatever kind (memory. Best wishes.. I can do 153 press-ups. Most important is to want something: the rest depends only on training. The answer will come to you based on your desire and passion for that which you seek. But if you simply train your memory.html 10/28/2010 . but training alone decides nothing. That's the path to success. mind. Look at the expression of their faces. muscles. Just look at that face: so much tension. EXPECT THE BEST. which says the same thought: Man is capable of performing miracles.Tony Schwartz . There were fifteen-year-old boxers. when you can see on a child's face the grim determination to beat his own record of the day before. Success comes only when the training. stamina). A man can swim the English Channel three times. But I still am questioning about the 4 hours and 1/2: is it really possible? Like Reply Fadeevdm 2 months ago There is a abstract from 1985 book Aquarium by Victor Suvorov about Soviet military intelligence. he can learn thirty languages. To work at the brink of collapse. become an Olympic champion at boxing. There was the case of the odd character who trained regularly. become a general in the GRU or make himself a millionaire. so much pain! That's the road to glory. five-yearold gymnasts and three-year-old takes a man to the limit of his capacity. Wait until the final moments of the day's training. knowing http://blogs. I know this from experience. Just study them! One day they will bring home an Olympic gold to offer to our red flag with the hammer and sickle on it. Training is effective only when it takes a man to the very limit of his capacity and he knows exactly where the limit is: I can do two metres in the high jump. To work only at the very limit of your capacity. drink a hundred mugs of beer. they learn faster in things in which they find the most interest.Harvard Business Review Page 8 of 32 Your answer comes from asking the question..goldenbulls. invent the television or the bicycle. your muscles or your mind regularly. WHAT DO I REALLY WANT TO DO? Ask yourself this question just before you sleep and as soon as you wake-up. When the end of the training becomes torture. We were taken to watch future Olympic champions in training. When a man cries out from pain and exhaustion. walk barefoot on burning coals. willpower. then nothing will come of your efforts. And each new training session is effective only when it becomes a battle to exceed your own achievement on the previous day. Regular training is important. You can become a champion only if you are the sort of person who.hbr. If you want it you can get it. I'll do 154 press-ups or die in the attempt. Every single day he lifted a smoothing iron and continued this for ten years. But his muscles got no bigger. I can memorize at one go two pages of a foreign text.

to use your tennis example. Even simple skills like this. However. Sounds nice. others ALL nurture. there is a book of articles by experts saying that weaknesses can't be ignored: (The Perils of Accentuating the Positive). I have a few of the books the author cites but haven't read them yet. (Edited by a moderator) twicker and 27 more liked this Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon Mitch. I have been doing managerial assessments for over 30 years so I naturally have my own opinions on this issue. however. 33 people liked this..some like to say that it is ALL nature. First we had the "play to your strengths" bandwagon of the last 10 years which said we could happily ignore our weaknesses. and thanks for sharing it. I think. 7 people liked this. The only ones who have conquered themselves.including Mozart. I doubt very much that absolutely everyone could become whatever they want through practice alone. there are no doubt other people who have improved themselves a great deal through practice.html 10/28/2010 . I don't have any evidence. It's also true that it's nearly impossible -. some people do have natural talents that others could never approach through any amount of practice.. In my opinion. Until we do the work it takes to reach excellence. What strikes me is that we tend to want all-or-nothing solutions . are really a complex set of talents including hand-eye coordination. No one seems to want to see that it could be a bit of both and that it could vary across types of skill and individual people.hbr. Like Reply Mitch McCrimmon 2 months ago in reply to Tony Tony.Tony Schwartz . in my view anyway. Huge insight into why so few people reach for greatness.and he's far and away the best researcher in this field --is that there is no good evidence that anyone -.possibly just plain impossible -. their own laziness and their own lack of confidence. Also. it seems pointless (and even counterproductive) to assume that we're not capable of anything to which we're willing to devote intensive practice..demonstrably had more talent at birth than anyone else. This is even more true for complex skills." But this doesn't imply that some people do not have a head start for whatever reason.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . I'm sure.Harvard Business Review Page 9 of 32 that the bar is about to fall and crush him. At the same time. it doesn't imply that it isn't a lot harder for some people to achieve excellence. Now. etc. that a lot of tennis players have practiced as much as Roger Federer without being as good as may become the greatest at something but you could suck as a parent . but not reality.breaking an olympic record may lead to breaking your children's hearts 2 people liked this. and Einstein and lots of other so-called geniuses -. Like Reply notmd 2 months ago in reply to Tony we must not forget that there are trade offs. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Fadeevdm Brilliant. Ericsson's point -. intelligence. who have defeated their own fear. find anyone who has achieved greatness at the highest level without outsize amounts of practice and dedication. Still. but I believe that some skills are easier for some people http://blogs. My central point is that we have immensely more potential for improvement than we recognize or cultivate. I'm sure you are right that "we have immensely more potential for improvement than we recognize. nevertheless heaves it Like Reply Mitch McCrimmon 2 months ago There is a lot of writing around today on this controversial issue.

Like Reply Glautiere 1 month ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon If one explores to discover what she really likes and pursues it with passion. dedication and focus. True enough that to become world-class is something only a few can achieve -. in most fields it takes guts and pro-active action to achieve excellence. yet they do not.hbr. excellence inevitably ensues. Like Reply Liliana Hello Mitch. I must add. Like Reply Wared 1 month ago in reply to Glautiere Hundreds on millions of athletes discover what they really like. . . Having said that. the willingness to get up when you've been knocked down. you can do a youtube search of some of the world's elite athletes back when they were kids. This is stretching a good truth into serious exaggeration . etc when they were kids. 1 month ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon I appreciate your 30 years experience in managerial assessment and would love to know more about it. and receive with undoubting Faith .Harvard Business Review Page 10 of 32 to improve than others. and (for the absolute majority of them. do the best you can. I don't know much about tennis. but in soccer. .Tony Schwartz . As a practical matter: "Get up early .if not all) will not reach his level of excellence. but please. However. and you can attend any kids soccer game you like." 1 person liked this. As a ''strengths based management'' fan. Like Reply Tony 1 month ago in reply to Wared Don't agree.which is a high level of skill. Some people are born with talent. and good things will happen. . back them up with cold hard evidence. and I believe is achievable by nearly anyone who puts in the dedicated effort.html 10/28/2010 . everyday . and compare the level at which they play. believe. . I mean as 4 or 5 year olds.only my opinion. dedication and absolute focus. . treat people as you'd like to be treated . there is a difference here between excellence and worldclass. at your place or internationally. if you want "cold hard evidence". . pursue it with passion. To repeat my post above.but that's different than excellence -. I just don't think it is wise to give people the impression that they can become absolutely anything they want to be through practice alone. dedication and absolute focus. . I can see that you understand it is about ''happily ignoring http://blogs. Even at 10. time and time again. I don't mean 14 year-old who train.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . get to work an hour early and leave an hour late . ask. with more passion. I'm all for using practice to improve. . Again. watch some clips of Lionel yet do not achieve excellence. Do you think there is no other sprinter who trains as hard as Usain Bolt? Many train harder. Ronaldinho. Also. You can make general points. Like Reply Wap1102 1 month ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon I agree w/ you. 1 person liked this. . 9 people liked this.

html 10/28/2010 .Harvard Business Review Page 11 of 32 weaknesses''. Like Reply Mitch McCrimmon Thanks for the comments Liliana.. Having said that. “Successful people do the things most people don’t like to do.(talent + knowledge + skill + feeling of purpose. absolutely agree that our strengths do not match requirements of all roles and jobs. One must continuously grow in the direction of their future career. I figure that otherwise you can keep putting all hours. He points out that before you apply such advice it is wise to check you are building on strengths. Ljiljana 1 person liked this. 1 month ago in reply to Liliana I certainly agree that some people can excel by playing to their strengths Relator. or levels and would not like anyone to understand it all in simplistic way. practising and God knows if you will ever reach excellence. and apart from confidence they need to produce performance. and who wouldn't want that? Thanks for reply and recommending the book. UNLESS you overcome those things that will eventually hold you back. Empathy) and I just did not know that as a young engineer and was feeling weak. All my top strengths are in use every day now (Maximizer.''high impact weakness''. having read the book: "The Perils of Accentuating the Positive. 20 years later I understand why I was great manager. you will inevitably rise to your level of incompetence. bored and frustrated. Also. ''If you can perceive it you can achieve it'' attitude that we try to terrorise ourselves with.” And continuous improvement is the key to success in most ventures. I am going to have a look at it now.'' definitely more than ''just '' feel good stuff. like: ''this is who I am and what I know and now I and my company are stuck with it. A good example is the engineer who is great at analytical thinking and continues to want to use this strength in management where a more facilitative style is required. which is more complex than this. 3 people liked this. perhaps the guidance where the strongest resources are. Thanks. But.. they point out that we can sometimes be in roles where our strengths don't match the requirements of the job.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . days and years in practising. You just need to manage or ''work around that weakness'' and more so if it is ''crucial'' for that job . I'm not so sure. practice or try something new. Like Reply http://blogs. where it is more important to draw solutions out of others than to do all one's own thinking." The authors make the point that different strengths are required at different levels. satisfaction) instead of building on weaknesses. Like Reply Liliana 1 month ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon Nothing to add to this. and as ''take it or leave it'' statement. no need to learn. Like Reply Wap1102 1 month ago in reply to Mitch McCrimmon Playing to your strengths may be a good way to start out. passion. let alone world class performance. My feeling now is that the "play to your strengths" idea is overly simplistic and does not accurately reflect reality. Now. That's what I want from myself at least. I think it is good to remind ourselves of our strengths as that can help us build and maintain our confidence. that sometimes strengths can become weaknesses and that we sometimes have to develop new strengths. if you're successful. now consultant and coach and was just an average engineer.Tony Schwartz . Developer. I was once a strong believer in this way of working. One definition of strengths in Buckingham's book is ''Constant near perfect performance. Positivity. Clifton was talking about movement of positive psychology and ''If I can do it you can do it too''. like you.hbr. Many geniuses fail because they under develop those practical skills that this world rewards most generously.'' Strengths are the starting point for me. How did you get this impression? The main point I got is that you can only reach excellent performance if building on strengths.

In which much ever poor you have performed. Peter Joseph and 60 more liked this Like Reply dawmail333 2 months ago in reply to J.. periodically. thinking and all that stuff.but you have no choice. Alan Miller 2 months ago Intense practice will help you gain skill? get the ef will be totally surprised at the things that are there for ever but you never noticed. This is done by trying to be 'present in the present'.. Brain needs good oxygen . Regards practice: Practice may not make perfect but makes permanent. that anger shuts down the prefrontal cortex? Cheers. Alan Miller Bill him? Maybe he should bill you for the waste of his bandwidth. 2. Did you miss some of the other insights? Were you aware the the maximum human capacity for focus is 90 minutes? That you should be taking a full renewal break at that point? That great performers practice for a maximum of 4 1/2 hours a day? That will & discipline won't help you build great habits. sometimes out of ambition sometimes because everyone is doing it.hbr.Tony Schwartz . changing and adapting Like Reply J. Seriously dude. it's called tact. Peter Joseph and 6 more liked this Like Reply Renga Iyengar 2 months ago It is a nicest piece on performance betterment.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Renga Iyengar http://blogs.for this you need to contstantly rate yourself and never berate yourself . Have to apply it. If you check this thing alone you will find you hardly get good air except in a green forest ! Air conditioners and other such entities are not really helpful to this . sometimes out of fear. unnecessarily hostile. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to J.Harvard Business Review Page 12 of 32 Vinita 2 days ago in reply to Liliana It is Attitude not Aptitude that decides ones Altitude.not just air. I wish I could bill you for the five minutes of my lunch hour I spent reading this crap. trying to learn Blender. You need to put your brain to rest . Well. hence it becomes extermely important to keep learning. Just look around and just look at what ever is there . Pl check this and find out how to keep your brain in a good state . but rituals will? And. 3. To reach up there one needs to posess certain natural talent and definetely the hunger to drive him. probably help to add tutorials to the list.html 10/28/2010 . 10 people liked this. Alan Miller Awfully. find this advice sound.but be sure to keep it healthy ! Rgds Renga 9 people liked this. This is the main thing here. I might add. my friend.Let me add a thing or two here. may be you know how to work with your brain in a better way. I for one. All our performance depends upon how good and wakeful our brain is. we humans have this funny knack of doing things sometimes out of want. Just forget imaginations.

From my personal experience I can say that "talent" is overrated. making you able to learn a skill the way a child would learn it. This phrase sometimes put in children' minds by teachers. I have no talent for this". 1 person liked this. I believe in the basic tenets of this and have seen it replicated time and again. Like Reply Lena Dear Tony. therefore. 7 people liked this. and everyday practice is what makes miracle happen. Like Reply Jessjones 1 month ago in reply to Shashank Tripathi He is referring to the plasticity of the brain.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . 2 months ago This was a powerfully motivating little piece. Like Reply Jason Dick Thanks Every person posesses a huge learning potential. because in early life you might've learned that humans can't fly on their own and now you decide that that specific assumption was made too fast (There actually exists a group of monks that tries to fly by jumping all day long. Peter Joseph and 7 more liked this Like Reply rsotacab 2 months ago There is a book called "The Brain that changes itself" that explains exactly what happens in our brain when learning a new skill.Tony Schwartz . I strongly believe that if you want to be good at something you should work hard. But because children need to make conclusions and take some things as fact their mental plasticity decreases. Like Reply Shashank Tripathi 1 month ago in reply to rsotacab I think you meant "elastic". many people choose an easy way by saying: "I can not do this. It's a great blueprint for success.html 10/28/2010 . Don’t make the mistake to think you can fly though. Pushing past the comfort zone is so critical to achieving excellence in any capacity.hbr.Harvard Business Review Page 13 of 32 Could not agree more that we have vastly undervalued the role of rest and renewal in achieving excellence over time. etc. 1 month ago Thank you for your post. society. and yes it is said that plasticity is greater in early age (you can teach a child anything and make it believe anything). not plastic? 1 person liked this. because in early life you might've learned that humans can't fly on their own and now you decide that that specific assumption was made too fast (There actually exists a group of monks that tries to fly by jumping all day long. parents. Once a person grows he becomes accustomed to the fact that he is not talented and. The conclusion of the book is that our brain is plastic enough to learn any skill. This also means that when you believe that you can do something your brain will "erase" the conclusions made in earlier life (childhood). That's why I included it as one of the keys in my list. Dont make the mistake to think you can fly tho. and they say they make some real progress but none of them can actually fly yet). but with age it gets less plastic unless we keep it plastic by exercising it. and they say they make some real progress but none of them can actually fly yet). however. there is no reason to try something new. Leading an "ordinary" life and hiding under the mask of http://blogs.

to 7 a. The reason is that outstanding violinists have a larger area of the brain devoted to finger sensing than others. I've heard references to chess players who devote endless time to the game and are B players. A different benchmark is. or even know how to play chess. I've heard of people who put endless time into mathematics without any great result. There'll never be enough time. which is something you are born with. of course. I'm much less confident that it is sufficient.m 3 times a week. but I was always told by my parents that I would not be able to do so. The benchmark you have used is comparing one to others i.html 10/28/2010 . know that they are talented. These people often say: "If I had more free time I would have learnt this". Of course. I note that one reason for failure to find failure might be that people without the needed talent in a given area quite sensibly decide to channel their efforts elsewhere. and don't listen to those people who say that you can not do this :-)) 5 people liked this. Joan Sutherland became great amazingly quickly. A different perspective of looking at this topic is asking "whether we could possibly be the worst at anything we do?". on the contrary. This possibility also needs to be taken into account. Finally. I have seen no effort to find people who put in 10. you will have to sacrifice something in order to achieve the desired result. And I have to say that nothing is impossible as long as you really want to achieve something. Consider singing. Another factor: opportunity at the right time. I always wanted to play the piano. OTOH nothing short of a new upper body will ever let me sound like And you are right. comparing to yourself. as you might never find out whether you truly have the potential to be the best or not. Another truism is that no one will become a great sprinter without a high ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch muscles. I may never have become a B player.m. I had swimming classes every morning from 6a. To me.000 hours and failed. chinese language. etc. 4 people liked this. Some people. I find it quite plausible that 10. Being B rated is obviously not the best in the world. In my case I sacrificed sleeping for swimming. Don't give up trying just because you aren't the "best". "being excellent at anything" is trying my best in delivering whatever I do. Like Reply Tony Amen! 1 month ago in reply to Lena Like Reply Skeptic 1 month ago I have read several of these books. Like Reply Jessjones 1 month ago in reply to Skeptic Your right in saying that the amount of time you put into something does not immediately relate to high http://blogs. Majoring in classical guitar. believe in yourself. and now my parents are amazed to hear me playing the piano.000 hours into chess and is still a B player. Like Reply Pai 1 month ago in reply to Skeptic I have a different understanding to being "excellent at anything". I could put in 10. In order to develop this it is necessary to start young enough that the brain has sufficient plasticity to get there.hbr. I achieved the goal and now I am pretty good at swimming.Harvard Business Review Page 14 of 32 "no talent" is perhaps the easiest way. I started learning swimming. time management is what makes the wonder. I proved that persistent every day practice makes the difference. 1 person liked this. You cannot become a violin virtuoso if you start later than age ten. The legend is that they exist.and it is this feeling that drives us to devote hours to achieve excellence.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . at the age of 28. because they don't try hard enough to prove themselves wrong. I am still struggling with learning Chinese characters but I believe that I can do this. but in order to be the best in the group I used to swim every day. Never give up if you want to achive your goal.000 hours are a necessary condition for success. but they are just lazy to do something.000 hours or even 100. but at least I know I've tried my best and explored the limit of my boundaries.e. playing piano.Tony Schwartz . whether one could become the best through practising. They always leave me unsatisfied. "Hell no" might be a version of the answer as the competitive you wakes up . and you put your heart into this. if I didn't put in any effort.

and because your perception also differs on a daily basis the amount of time you need to practice a specific component can also change on a daily basis. However.I think I read it on a greeting card. Like Reply Soni Good One. this does not mean that you will instantly become the new superman for that specific subject. starting with challenging my statements. but their basic rules are the same. and in some cases what your opponent is doing / thinking and in other cases what the laws of physics will throw at you etc…. This is because you forget one very important variable in the calculation.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . With this been said there is no possible way of proofing my “facts”. and I've followed a rigorous regimen for about twelve years in an effort to get better. because even if you perceive the component you still need to link the pieces to their correct spot. The moment your aware of what you’re doing. Over the years my game has gotten better. At the moment there are even people that call themselves scientists that believe that perception actually influences scientific facts. to the point where I am now a 5 http://blogs. In your heart you know that you can do it. 4 people liked this.. I just hope that others will be satisfied with my arguments and will think for themselves.hbr. But your mind always brings practical excuses for not doing it.Tony Schwartz . For runners people speak of runners-high which describes a state of mentality where nothing matters just the fact that you keep running as fast and as long as you physically can (till you die in some cases) Whenever you enter a state of mentality like that you will notice that your perception of the requirements for your current goal becomes painfully obvious as opposed to your normal way of perceiving things. There are books written about this in many different languages and planes of understanding. as long as you train the right components for that specific goal.. 1 month ago in reply to Susan Like Reply Glen Jones 2 months ago I'm a golfer with modest talent. The amount practice required for every component can differ. the only thing that changes is our future way of perceiving because we build further upon our “new found facts”. or at least breaking your own limits or even achieve better as most others in that If you have any questions about how I inteded anything of the above just send me a PM Like Reply Hilu Pilu 2 months ago It was interesting to remind the self that practice can help you learn everything you ever wanted to. you will truly understand what is necessary to make it.Harvard Business Review Page 15 of 32 achievements. This is all loosely based on Einstein’s ideas of relativity. It only means that at that specific time you know what you need to train to become even better. My belief is that it goes the other way around.html 10/28/2010 . That regimen includes practicing four nights a week and playing three times a week. during a season that lasts for about 8 months. which is awareness. And to see that you need a fine understanding of that goal. Like Reply Susan 1 month ago in reply to Hilu Pilu I know that this is cheesey . So i guess that what Tony intends to say is that the training is key. "Imagine what you could do if you thought you would never fail" 3 people liked this.

But do right things apply that we should do what we actually good at which is determined by the talents that you born with. Ian Woosnam or Sandy Lyle. but perhaps in golf you could become a pro (playing on a minor tour?). not just the better in the golf. comparing with the ourselves. then you come the conclusion that nurture(practice) is the key to our success. That would include feedback meaning you are creating muscle memory for your golf the best competition. And remember we're talking practice. So I am the worse one. instead comparing with ourselves.000 hours of correct practice. The point you stress is that practice can make us better. How come ? Talent.000 hours of proper practice then you may not become World/Olympic champion or a Major winner. even though not the best. the best training regimens.000 hours works out at 2 hours practice a day for 15 years. I think he would do the best in it. I have proven that to myself and to my friends who marvel at my work ethic. I simply would never have been able to run the 100 meter dash in 9. There is no subsitute for innate talent. the better we would perform. I think what you said above are partly right. but if you have weaknesses or errors/faults then you are only grooving in bad habits. the more we put in practice. But I think the point is this: if you put in the 10. or do right things? It has been widely acccepted by most of managers in a survey that we should do right things. But the degree of the improvement is different. if he put the same amount of practice that he had with the golf in the fields where his talent lies.Tony Schwartz . I would rather choose not to play basketball. when we explore deeply into your views. Now let us imagine: Both persons put the same amount of practice to play basketball. Hannah Acuña Nedrow and 3 more liked this Like Reply Mattewmo 2 weeks ago in reply to Marcus9000 Marcus. Clearly. so the hours you spend on the course is not practice (unless you are playing yourself trying different shots). down from 10 when I started.. To master a skill you need 10. for under the same amount of practise. you will achieve more with less cost.Harvard Business Review Page 16 of 32 handicap. Nick Faldo is an example of a golfer who had modest natural talent but had incredible discipline (ingrained by of all people his mother who forced him to practice in afternoons when the other young players went home) and a great mental side to his game. So it is a lot. Tony.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Just cite Nick Fildo as an example.000 hours you will become very. we will see that "do things right" connect to practice and "do right things" related to the direction. is that I firmly believe that we are constrained by out talent levels. Do things right means put right practice to things. the talent that funtion.1% in the world from even the rest of the professionals in any sport. and application of technique to my sport. the best nutrition. direction is more important. 4 people liked this. However. The one who does better are more talented than the other in the certian activity. Do things right.5 seconds even if I had the best coaches. and started at age 5.hbr. So subject to your perspective. Plus there is a mental side to many sports which is the main factor that separates the top 0. what you said just right imply that it is the nature. you may concieve that we should not accentuate the benchmark that comparing with others. to some degree. And the direction is based on the your talent! http://blogs. very good at any sport or skill. but he won more majors than they did due to his love of practice and his mental strength. I am living proof of your theory that dedicated practice can improve ones execution. and that any success I do have is a result of maximizing the best part of my game while minimizing the worst. That is the hardest skill to acquire though it can be improved. So far so good. then the outcome is one perform better than the other. in my views. Going in the right direction. Where that level is I am not sure. However. where I may differ from you. 10. I tell my friends that I've squeezed every drop of juice out the lemon that is my golf swing. So again I do believe that if you practice properly for the 10. Compared to practise. etc.. it entail the right practice.html 10/28/2010 . and for example. no matter how hard or how smart you work. Adversely. He wasn't as talented as Seve Ballesteros. it is wise for me to pick up the job in which my strength lie. but you would become good enough to compete at a very high level. I can be more successful in my talented field than in the other fields. Admittedly. dedication. Like Reply Marcus9000 2 months ago in reply to Glen Jones Glen I think you are missing the point a little bit.

. Because these are such complex activities. the conscious mind actually gets in the way when it comes to are always welcomed back into the club 1 person liked this.but on a serious note." Since when is 90 minutes a short period? Most people (especially those with young children) are lucky to get 10 minutes of uninterrupted time. The more automatic these activities become.What do you think? Kindest Regards. Shashank Tripathi and 2 more liked this Like Reply http://blogs.the hackers. Imtiaz 3 people liked this.Here are my two cents.People gets good in certain disciplines by accident (so to say) because they have some memories on subconscious level... Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Imtiaz AHMAD No question that learning takes place at a conscious and an unconscious level. 3 people liked i would add one more item to the equation and that is passion(adult word) or enjoyment(childs word). 2 months ago Thanks for this motivating post. without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break.html 10/28/2010 .I think background matters a lot.let's say at the age of 3 your father placed a childs golf club in your hands and you (key word) enjoyed hitting the ball(i didn't say talent). The trick. Like Reply Imtiaz AHMAD Dear Tony. Hannah Acuña Nedrow and 3 more liked this Like Reply Lucy 2 months ago "Practice intensely. is to move learning from explicit to implicit. not to fool would be receptive to developing that skill and someday could play as well as Tiger.I think talent becomes less important in the equation(talent x perspiration x missing componenet=success) if you develop your skills at a much earlier age. Like Reply pbr90 1 month ago One thing missing from this list: ethics Practice of ethics is essential to excellence so that sense of achievement is ultimately.Harvard Business Review Page 17 of 32 Like Reply notmd 2 months ago in reply to Glen Jones Glen...sorry to hear that you left the largest golf group in the country. the height of ignorance and narcissistic reliance that is self defeating. so it gets expressed automatically -.. or explicit and implicit as it's sometimes said. but most of all.Practice sharpen their innate abilities and nature blessed them with more hunches. the more the conscious mind is left free to improvise . or hitting a tennis etc) and there are those who have the same talent and hard work but perform because they are having fun(child word for passion).I hope the 5 handicap is too much of a burden..hbr. using your example.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything ..there are musicians today who have the talent and work hard but their end game is to acquire something(fame. to not fool in playing the piano.Tony Schwartz .We should acknowledge the fact that learning happen both on conscious and subconscious level.

When I read an interesting thing. Rather than exerting tremendous effort to achieve a goal – as per the 10. we can't focus intensely for MORE than 90 minutes. it is easy to concentrate 90 minutes if you are doing something that you love.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Like Reply Prabhat Tiwari 1 month ago Passion invokes innovation.. but I think this is only half the story and a very western view of the World! You are using being extremely good at something individually and therefore dedicating immense time and effort to improving it as your definition of human excellence. This is the one reason why someone can have "more power" as someone else. There is no alternate to hard work. That ‘human excellence’ is just maximising your performance! I think that actually this is not how your brain actuals sees the World or operates and the latest neuro research tells us this. So. world stops for me. Good piece of article. The point is that no matter how hard we train. but you're the one missing the point at this moment. good list – but don’t think that they deliver excellence. Otherwise.html 10/28/2010 .. Like Reply Jessjones 1 month ago in reply to Terry wilcox I can't agree more with this case distractions -.theoryofexcellence. is actually achieving the maximum reward from the minimum effort.000 hours view of the world! Your goal is to play tennis at a level that you always dreamed of. Scope of this topic is vast hence all aspects cannot be covered in this blog. as the human brain evaluates it. that is imperative that you love 2 people liked this. and to me this is extremely enjoyable but to me definitely not excellence! So.and then recovering. At the moment however it's impossible for everyone to have the required amount of clarity at the same time to be able to solve global issues. Like Reply Terry wilcox 2 months ago Hi great list to improve performance.Tony Schwartz .org/schwartz/2010/08/six-keys-to-being-excellent-at.. We build capacity by pushing against resistance -. do you view this as excellence? Don’t get me wrong .Harvard Business Review Page 18 of 32 Mehmet Kayapalı 1 month ago in reply to Lucy I can talk for myself. http://blogs. If I don't like the thing that I read You have to pull a gun to my head for 5 minutes.. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Lucy Lucy. great steps to help you on your journey to make something nearly autonomic . When you are in this zone your brain actually goes off to doing something far more rewarding . Terry www. 1 person liked this. and then rest. with a clear stopping point. regards the six steps. I am also past my best and still compete competitively at sports with people half my age.. 1 person liked this. In a perfect world everyone would live according to "your" theory. but according to my theory of human excellence that is the lowest form of brain function. 2 people liked this. update and always renew. If you want to be succesful in something.hbr.Stimulus Independent Thought (SIT) and that is human excellence at its highest form. The Eastern way would say you have missed the point of life all together! Human Excellence. It's absolutely true that most of us struggle to focus intensely for even short periods of time -and the overload of technology has a lot to do with fracturing our capacity for attention. and you have made improvements . One way to build attention is to set a specific period of time. We should practice.

That been said. 2 people liked this.Tony Schwartz . Like Reply bonadventure 2 months ago in reply to Perry Donnafield Something here you seem to be missing.hbr. Hinduism claims to have the solution for this problem. practice makes perfect. though. It is obviously true that some people have what is termed "innate" abilities and "talent". there are very few people on the planet that can cover 100 meters as fast as Usain Bolt. is replete with accounts of individuals who developed their potential and excelled much later in life. we'd have to find out how some of these other factors match up against those who've achieved greatness as sprinters. I began my running career as a sprinter at the young age of six. Having said that. many of the limitations we experience are as a result of beliefs imprinted in our minds early on in life . But in others. 2 people liked this. They make people believe that 1 person has more moral value as another. even if you weren't one of the world's best. as long as you keep your head and rest now and then. History. Ever heard of me? No? That is because I don't have the same genetic abilities as Usain.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . it also generates a lot of sadness. 1 person liked this. If you want to perform something really well and you practice enough you will get consistent world class results.html 10/28/2010 . including his support system. This way of cheating would theoretically work. as in my previous comment! 1 person liked this. sport or performance. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to bonadventure Precisely. the culture in which he grew up.Harvard Business Review Page 19 of 32 So even though a "higher" state of mentality could generate happiness. You may end up with great sprinting form.that we have to be "born that way". as you rightly point out. No matter how complex the activity. belief system. and the six keys you've outlined here can turn seemingly ordinary individuals into high performers. or that other people outperform us because of inherent genetic ability. for these other people that describe excellence as mind and body working together to achieve a single goal: "Yes. I think there are certain disciplines where 10000 hours of practice do lead to expertise. those hours are overshadowed by pure ability. You don't have to be the fastest in the world to be world class." But even in America I have not come across someone who could be that selfish. As Glen Jones mentions above. Like Reply Perry Donnafield 2 months ago I agree with the author to a point. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Perry Donnafield Many environmental factors help account for Usain Bolt's especially athletic disciplines." Like Reply Daniel Chaytor 2 months ago I like your article. and got some of the other key factors right. the amount of practice he put in. Like Reply http://blogs. To really know what you were capable of Perry.000 hours of practice as a sprinter. the quality of his coaching and his mindset as a function of his varied life experiences. the right mindset. and agree with most of your points. you did indeed achieve excellence as a sprinter. my guess is that if you put in 10. That way you will be able to enter Nirvana. However. because: "For the highest state of mental clarity you need to let go of all attachments (mainly emotional and instinctive). but you still won't beat Usain.

and move beyond pure technical expertise. A slightly broad literary background would make this evident to anyone bothering to investigate. Running a business in an effective.html 10/28/2010 .Harvard Business Review Page 20 of 32 Don Pilarz 2 months ago The author has missed the point! His keys are only a reasonable basis for becoming adept at very specific single tasks or small groups of the demands of greatness and the training it requires are higher than ever. Doing complex activities like sport.. Some of it comes from recognizing that complex activities require different kinds of training. Only when we've reached a certain level of proficiency is it possible to begin to improvise. Jerry Stackhouse. explicit to implicit. Winning in tennis means a lot more than hitting the ball well. Hannah Acuña Nedrow and 1 more liked this Like Reply Anil Kumar Karamsetty 1 month ago i like this article. Some of that comes from great coaching. Talent is the innate ability to perceive and understand the need for such higher level coordination and summing. It’s no wonder MBAs are causing so much damage in business if they are being fed the misconceptions in this article! The article has some true elements but lacks the salient development and conclusions. and move them from conscious to unconscious.and i work relentlessly to achieve my challenges. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Don Pilarz There is a hierarchy of training. It’s not news.Tony Schwartz .Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .which can also be consciously cultivated. Technical wizards rattling off myriad fast notes are boring and anti-musical. Grant Hill. Remember the phenomenon of "Baby Jordans" in the NBA? During the mid to late nineties. Harold Miner.. so that a leader who is great with numbers may well lack empathy -. The real point here is that in a world of growing complexity. Like Reply Esoos Bobnar 2 months ago "The Art of Learning" would be another good book on that theme..this! 1 week ago Like Reply http://blogs.hbr. 1 person liked this.thank u for boosting up my confidence. 1 person liked this.. music.. Like Reply David Tyson Beckford Ruva Quite insightful. Like Reply Nick Waddell 4 days ago Good article. First we must develop the core technical skills.there was only one Jordan because he combined and intangible with his physical gifts. 2 people liked this.i always pursue what i love. humane and sustainable way requires human interaction and empathy which belittle the already difficult singular tasks involved. For instance the key points in the article can actually be quite harmful when applied to the study of music while ignoring all the subtle motivation of movements which sum to express musical meaning. he worked harder than anyone else. What is worrying is that what I have just stated has been said repeatedly over many centuries if not millenia. or interpersonal relations in business requires the coordination of these activities with our whole brain. anyone coming out of college with a certain size and jumping ability got this label for a while.

performance. 3. Relaxing had just got more relaxing. QED Like Reply Modele Tubosun 2 weeks ago This is so true and deep. Hard work and dedication are a key step in achieving your aim but you must remember that quality is queen.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . solution. service.. Anyone over that weight is considered a heavyweight. 5 and become easrier and more fun.only if we apply it to our lives. If your natural aptitude and love are for the same thing the world is your lobster. There are no Rod Laver's on the men's tour now and there never will be again. By contrast I feel I have a strong analytical streak and enjoy it so I seek out problems to solve and look for ways to get better. so you can be your best.html 10/28/2010 .. due to the leverage a taller player can generate with his body. My 2 cents. to which.Harvard Business Review Page 21 of 32 Lu 1 week ago I totally agree on the points. It's no accident that Roger Federer has dominated the men's game at 6'1". A short player in today's game has a big disadvantage in the men's game. that's all you get out. based on their natural abilities. I'm 5' 9".in all areas always Like Reply winkleink Very interesting debate. Management is doing things right. Like Reply Brian Murphy 2 weeks ago Dr. so any sport their height is an advantage means I will always be fighting an up hill 3 weeks ago Be are born with physical/mentail make up which gives us the potential to be amazing in certain pursuits. Items 2. I reminded of a time after a long gym session when I sat into this small pool for relaxation and said to the other person in there that this could not get any better. as did Pete Sampras..Tony Schwartz . It reminds of the difference between leadership and management. Leadership is doing the right thing right. and other aspects of human behavior. We know that there are vast differences in IQ. The idea that you can just choose to be great at anything based on the time and quality of practice appeals to a Western value set that emphasizes the importance of personal choice. When you figure out which pursuits you can be amazing in and love it just appears to work. work smarter not harder as they say and always aim for quality not quantity in your endeavor. they pushed the switch to turn on the jacusi bubbles. very good. Like Reply Ken Holecko 4 weeks ago All of these books and articles are based on analyses of a self selected group of high achievers. Remember that if you only put in quality to your product. one must know what to do and then do the right thing. Can you get better at http://blogs. But if we have learned anything from modern medicine it is that there are important biological differences between humans and that these biological differences can make large differences in what we can do. 4. so do things right first time. but it will be hard work. emotions. W Edwards Deming a great statistician and management consultant once said that it is not enough to do the right thing... Take tennis. etc."delay gratification".hbr.. No runner over 175 pounds has set a world record in a distance event in recent years. As an example. I can become very good. People self select what they like around what they find naturally easy to do.

However." in my life.. or how do you get them off the dead end freeway and onto the right freeway. Having said that. I'd add to the #5 step.. Like Reply John Calhoun 1 month ago I'm often amused at the offerings of those proposing a step-by-step solution to a common issue as if issues such as these exist in isolation from a spectrum of influences that create the issue in the first place. you are not going to be the next Yo Yo Ma... We would be far better off acknowledging that people have different innate talents and that there are no easy routes to success. it is imperative to have an unshaking focus and a lot of effort with no looking back. We can't completely disregard the impact of what we genetically inherit and also the circumstances and ambience we are brought up because it does matter which school/college you went to and what kinda people you grew up with. Where possible. To the extent that the publications suggest that lots of practice is a key ingredient of achieving world class accomplishments. that gives you the coordination. all you gotta do is to pursue it and not stop until you have accomplished it.html 10/28/2010 .. but not sufficient condition of that level of success. Therefore at 41 I am now not sure how I would go about finding a passion.Schwartz .hbr. I am sure they are right. And once you have identified your area of interest and something which really excites you and something that you feel is your destiny.. Kudos to Mr. be prepared to deal with the repurcussions of your investment. a break sometimes gives our subliminal mind an opportunity to engage with a better option than the one we were focused on.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Well sometimes the reality is that allot of us have to work and take whatever job is available and survive in that job. I believe allot of people are like this.. people to become passionate about what they do. no matter how many hours you practice. and ability to hear the notes you want to play. There has been allot written about if you do what you love than you will never work a day in your life. I also admire those who offer a path out of a wilderness for those less adept at problem solving at times when such help is needed. I'm definitely adding the Aristotle quote mentioned in the article ("We are what we repeatedly do") to the classroom wall today. But if you don't have the right DNA. Like Reply Ptyagi 1 month ago First of Schwartz . Been there. I would like to appreciate the article and agree that it makes a lot of sense.. Like a company that had a focus but due to customers requirements moved into too many directions and lost its plan to become the best at. Although that success might be in an area that isn't socially heralded. As a flight instructor for 22+ years I've seen the value of a fresh way to look at things when faced with a critical problem to solve.... But before believing in all of this.. When we were younger we had passions. I have not worked for a company or done anything in my work life that I truly feel passionate about. How do you get companies.. one must be able to identify the strength each of us possess. Like Reply Carrmike 1 month ago Hi.Harvard Business Review Page 22 of 32 something by working at it at age 58? I am sure you can. a limit of 15 minutes of activity on any one event . Well said that we got to do things repeatedly and consistently to expect desirable results in near future. dexterity. Like Reply Hmsbusinessteacher 1 month ago Simply an amazing article! I share with my students frequently that where you invest your time is where you will find the most success. what matters is atleast you had the grit to step forward and give it a try" Just look around and you would all the masters in their respective fields to have put in loads of effort and http://blogs. which do to the previous mention have disappeared into the back of our heads. To master a particular aspect of life or any such thing in our life. I have an issue with "Pursue what you love.. Practice is a necessary.. And yeah this holds true forever "It doesn't matter whether you win/lose. there is simply to substitute to hard work like you have no shortcut to success. for offering a better way. we get caught up in doing what we need to do to survive that even if we had a passion we are unable to pursue it do to time and financial constraints.

Schwartz for sharing his ideas. (or may be hate them because you are being disturbed by music while you were doing something else). Practice does not make perfect. it is obvious that it absoultely depends on your genetic inheritance. could be sports and games too. Certain people. I think that is influenced by what we are accustomed to seeing or feeling very often during our childhood days or so. you've really got to love what you're doing. I think it depends solely on a person's conception about spirituality and life. Thankyou :) Like Reply Germain Archambault 1 month ago A lot of interesting comments. I do believe it applies here. on the other hand. Will he qualify for the US Open? Not likely. Anyhow. yet another group will go for reading. I think it is that concept that keeps us going and achieve what we need. only we will try.Harvard Business Review Page 23 of 32 determination to make it happen. almost all of us need some more decades to do achieve this goal. Develop your own talent to the max requires discipline and method and. Like Reply Mgavoor 1 month ago I like the six points. Follow the six keys and dont be surprised to kiss success. Only perfect practice makes perfect.html 10/28/2010 . This could be utter nonsense from a 22 year old girl. Hubert Rampersad 1 month ago http://blogs. However. It is fascinating to see how people have difference in opinion and how much their perceptions vary. Kindly correct me if I am wrong in any way. I recently ran across this quote. But just wanted to speak up what I thought. and only we will achieve. f you want to do it you can it whether it takes long time or not. one can improve ones performance in any endeavor up to ones own potential. Usaim Bolt needs less than 5 years for practicing it. that is when we stop thinking about it and not attempt to get a good result out of it. Some others might have certain other valid reasons to put forth in the matter. I thank Mr. I would like to mention that it is solely upto a person to believe in a sole concept and go forward with it.Tony Schwartz . we try for it. But.hbr. Talent is no coubt part of the equation. Like Reply Resmi S 1 month ago This is a very interesting and inspiring article. and we finally accomplish/excels in it. Ms. it is for someone else). ~ Vince Lombardi Like Reply Dr.. Tony Schwartz's article is "you can become the best YOU can be" (my quotation marks) with the talent you have. believe in God which make some of us conclude that what we do or become are the gifts that he gave us. If at some point we give up thinking this is not for me (or may be God did not give me that specific talent. or our own determined attitude.. But. be it God's gift to man.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . Could be our parent's tastes that helps us like music. But what I read in Mr. If we think we have got a talent (or a gift from God).org/schwartz/2010/08/six-keys-to-being-excellent-at. Some people might like music. I agree with her on that. Will Tony improve as a tennis player? Sure. I see a lot of discussions/debates had been going on since the article has been posted. some others would prefer dance. But in the last. only we will practice. Applied at any point. including myself. Madhavi stated above that its all about finding what excites oneself. Like Reply Secpsl 1 month ago Do you run 100 meters below then 8 seconds? Nothing is impossible. So to conclude.

ly/2IF7X9 Dr. Like Reply Khi2 1 month ago I'm so loving this topic! I am a social worker and a graphic designer. Funniest thing is that I always felt more "gifted" as a social worker than as a graphic designer (which is a trade I had to work extra hard to learn). or circumstance we change or adapt our natural abilities. where either by determination. we will find that which comes naturally in us. Time management is very helpful in managing your career and advancing.. I know. you might be pursuing the wrong things because you are pursuing what others expect from you. I think this is similar to evolution. when I work on a project as a social worker.. suggests 21 days for cultivating a new habit or improving the old ones. The same is true for those who persevere and put in the hours to learn a new talent.pbu-edu.. Like Reply Mandeep 1 month ago Great article.hbr. etc). my favorite part is 90 minute focus. If we trust ourselves to be who we are..html 10/28/2010 .. flyers. Go figure.. it has been of value for me. This we will find. but that's what I Like Reply Bruceeast I completely agree 1 month ago Like Reply Howdoiexplore 1 month ago I think everyone has their own "natural ability". Hubert Rampersad Personal Branding University North Miami Beach h. I will also come up with the promotional material for it (posters. What's really interesting is that people will tell me that they admire my work (when talking about the social work aspect of it) and that they admire my talent (when talking about the graphic design part of it). that's a strange combination of skills to have. will be viewed by others as a natural talent. what is your mission ??? http://blogs. Like Reply Napoleon's son 1 month ago Great discussion. author of 'The monk who sold his Ferrari'. How to discover what you really want. web site. Robin Sharma . Pursue what you want and you will get there. Focusing on the small steps and breaking down the tasks is key to achieving the goal and preserving energy for unforeseen challenges.. Often enough.. This article doesn't cover these other things.. see this new book " Be The CEO of Your Life" http://bit.Tony Schwartz .Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .Harvard Business Review Page 24 of 32 There is much more to Being Excellent at www. Thank you for this post.. But what if you are not sure about what you want ? What if you are very good at something and you are continuesly challenged .

Is it possible that generously gifted talent may serve to narrow the recipient to their "long suit" at the expense of developing other skills? Like Reply Bijan Himself 1 month ago Lol.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . the critical element is practicing the right way rather than becoming proficient with flawed technique.html 10/28/2010 .Tony Schwartz .hbr. beautiful. but others will catch up. Those who want to skip the lower rungs because they are smart.manager. but there is certainly no guarantee that they will always lead the pack.000 hour practice regimen.. very bottom.. People gifted with extraordinary talent get off the starting line quicker than normal folks. http://blogs. Thanks. and the entire group. On the 10. Imbibing this culture has made my colleagues at work compliment me on skills I learnt through a process I saw as painstaking. will achieve black belt rank. Example: in a group of martial arts students... Like Reply RC 1 month ago Hi Tony Thank you verymuch for the valuble information about the hiddent strengths and talent within the human being. RC Lamichhane. Like Reply Ajayfinancial 1 month ago very good thoughtful article its very much obvious to a good performer.. impatient. he can achieve the miracles. I love the irony of the fact that K. if his talent and interest became match. I've written about it at length in my book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working" Hope it provides some answers about finding your calling! Like Reply Sir Oldman 1 month ago One of the keys for reaching excellence that has worked for me but often overlooked by novices is the willingness to start at the very. Anders Ericsson is an expert on expertise. with a proper instructor.enterprenuer as well as a good leaders.. Kathmandu Like Reply Ikechno 1 month ago I love your article especially the part that says we should do the hard part of work Excellence is simply "gain from pain". there will often be a student with a natural talent advantage.Harvard Business Review Page 25 of 32 Like Reply Tony 1 month ago in reply to Napoleon's son Very big question. And ofcourse the practice of his/her areas of interest can lead toward the destination. I do agree that the every person posses unique types of potentiality whith in him. are severely handicapped as managers absent the knowledge of what is happening down the chart.these lessons are working you all along with life and keeps you right momentum of learning by these steps if you follow correctly you will find very obvious and successful result for every student.

Though it may seem simple and obvious to few people. To a large extent a favourable feedback or rejuvinating their mental ability will be helpful in reaching the desired goal. Like Reply Swapna 1 month ago Yes. Talent is their in each and every individual.from Mozart to Curie and many others as mentioned at www. many others spend a lifetime in finding out what they really want. If we have those 6 traits in our life. Like Reply http://blogs. Once that discovery is made then the qualities you suggested can take you to your goal. Like Reply Musoland1 1 month ago Thanks for the six points. Having studied over 200 amazing people . Excellence is a reflection of harmony within and without. Like Reply Dr. every profession we have. Enlightening play of discipline. if they practice it ritually it is sure that they will attain excellence in their respective areas Like Reply Sunny 1 month ago The 10000 hour idea is really fascinating. Priya M Vaidya.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .amazingpeopleclub.Harvard Business Review Page 26 of 32 Like Reply Jeff. passion and determionation are the real two components for excellence in any field.html 10/28/2010 .there is a pattern of interest linked to practice with specific problem solving aptitudes maybe derived from genes. we will be successful.Tony Schwartz .R. but i feel that the tricky part is to actually find that one thing which you are really passionate about. I first encountered it in Caldwell's book and since have observed it at work in numerous businessmen or businesses I know. Now when I look at successful business people or organizations I understand the issue of continually working at a problem/solution and also begin to see how important if not critical continual practice is. Like Reply Martin Teguh 1 month ago Those 6 keys are very valid. Though some may have the passion but lack of determination or confidence level put them behind. dynamism and devotion to be the best!!! Dr. So nature and nurture with discipline and .hbr. 1 month ago Hardwork and practice are a pre-requisite for everything that we need to acheive.Priya M Vaidya 1 month ago Very interesting

Like Reply Joseph Ludford 2 months ago I am late to the discussion. I would like to see the element of individual psyche and its improvement added to the discussion of high performace. Like Reply Heather Brynn 1 month ago in reply to Skeptic I think that there are some body characteristics that can influence the ability to become excellent at certain sports. It would be fine to introduce such "rituals" in my own perfection path. and that no amount of effort on her part would make up for it. from the Freakenomics blog: "A painful (for me) case in point: my daughter’s pursuit of balletic glory. In retrospect I know that I was limited by a fear of interacting with people. she was checked. and a rich confluence of factors contribute beyond hard work -including temperament. as a result of which she had to stay up past midnight most nights to finish her homework. with stars in her eyes. Like Reply Artem Ayupov 2 months ago That is a very interesting idea about hard practice ritualizing. 1 person liked this. She was second to no one in diligence or desire. until." Like Reply Tony 1 month ago in reply to Skeptic I find it hard to imagine that your daughter didn't achieve some reasonable level of excellence given that much work. There's lots of pleasure to be derived from pursuing a passion even if you don't become world class. which may not have to do with talent. quality of coaching. She started with the Maryland Youth Ballet at the age of five or six. by the increasingly obvious fact that she was relatively lacking in certain innate abilities crucial to balletic success. and absorbed ideas from both books. eventually.html 10/28/2010 .hbr. "Effortless Mastery" is another book you might want to look at. surgical operations. and kept at it through high school — spending three or fours hours in the studio every day after school. I was born with high potential to learn and did so in schools to my benefit. as compared with others in her school.Harvard Business Review Page 27 of 32 Skeptic 1 month ago A followup to my earlier comment. Like Reply http://blogs. I am retired. airplane piloting. the kind of emotional support they get along the way. but missed out on developing understanding and behaviours needed to function well in my career. which might explain my blind spot. In many field of human excellence-related activity it is used widely: academic orchestra concerts.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . There are very very few people who ever get to the latter. Like Reply Vikas 1 month ago I completely agree with this thought and I'm glad to see Outliers as one of your recently read books. but want to comment anyway.Tony Schwartz . also devoting summers to the same pursuit when she was old enough to be admitted to the summer training programs of the Princeton and Miami ballet companies. but still working to pass insights on personal development to younger people. and may be out of my league. There is a difference between excellence and world class. I have read Outliers and Talent is Overratred.

Like Reply Alan Y 2 months ago I think one confusing factor in discussions like this is that for many people the thing they "love" is precisely what they were born to do. Sometimes I can't figure out what that new approach is and then i get the bright idea to ask someone else who is qualified. Like Reply John Quaresma 2 months ago Inspirational and daunting.Harvard Business Review Page 28 of 32 Soumala 2 months ago The harder part is when we like more than one thing . but ultimately focus and endurance win the day. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Nleeser Yes. The words are Will Durant's who was writing about http://blogs. I also think this can be made much more difficult in today's "ADD"-style culture Like Reply Rick Thomas 2 months ago A small nit: the quote is misattributed to Aristotle.Tony Schwartz . Like Reply Nleeser 2 months ago If you haven't already you should read the book Mindset The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck which supports what you are talking about with definitions of Fixed Mindsets and Growth Mindsets. as anything truly meaningful should be :-) I think ultimately the lesson is that ambition is great. I should have included Mindset among the books.html 10/28/2010 . Brilliant really. Like Reply Oidada 2 months ago Speaking from my own experience I notice that when I "plateau" at some endevour I need to find a new tack. Like Reply Shamraj Shasikumar 2 months ago The excellence that we are seeking for is focus on our innate talents which must be translated to strengths and leads to high performance (individual). Carol Dweck is another of the great researchers in this field. Then few things that been focused and deliberate energy channels will leads to what we want to achieve.then we either don't have enough time to devote to all our likes or can not decide resolutely which one of the likes to pursue with gusto. And then i get the bright idea to ask even more people who can help me.Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . And genetic potential is part of that

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything . you will not be an expert.hbr. I've seen some folks have an ear for music.Tony Schwartz . "Outliers". I've been misattributing that quote for years. Like Reply Tom Getchius 2 months ago Is there rationale and science that supports tackling the difficult problems first? In thinking of this from the perspective of a musician. Like Reply Heather Brynn 2 months ago in reply to Tom Getchius Although I am not a musician Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Rick Thomas Rick. http://blogs. Wow. while for some it is the other way round. the value practicing correctly and using rituals. get to the depths of things in their fields. you don't have magical muscles that make you faster on the court . learn more. thank you very much." I think what he is emphasizing is that you don't get distracted by smaller.Harvard Business Review Page 29 of 32 Aristotle.000 hours. not "a couple of hours a week"). but I attribute much of the success I've enjoyed in corporate America to my early musical pursuits (continuing through college education and a few years of professional performing) and what I learned about the discipline of practice. and the psychology of performing. Basically the key is to discover things that truly excite oneself! 1 person liked this. identifying finger numbers and phrasing through technically challenging sections before tackling the really challenging stuff. I would start by reviewing the piece. the need for good instruction and coaching. Opportunity + practice = expertise. achieve more.nobody is born a tennis star or a math whiz. If you don't have the opportunities available to you and don't put the time in (and according to Gladwell we're talking at least 10. here. I believe inner inclination is necessary to trigger/activate ones sense of wanting to explore more. Look at children. Notice there is nothing about "innate talent" at all in there . more menial tasks that don't have long-term value. describing Aristotle's philosophy. the importance of rest and recovery. Otherwise. Like Reply Sean Masters 2 months ago Malcolm Gladwell nailed this in his book. and it definitely did not come from 10000 hours of practice. Like Reply Mike Kunkle 2 months ago Some of my business colleagues have smirked at this over the years. You are right: it is from Will Durant. I agree and connect with the other 5 points. are steps toward achieving a bigger goal. some children learn the alphabet faster than learning colours. Of course that pursued further will only lead to excellence.your body has adapted to the accumulated pressures you have put on it over decades of training and now you're an NBA pro. identifying finger numbers and phrasing through technically challenging sections would all fall under what the author deems "the most challenging thing. I would think that reviewing the piece. Like Reply Madhavi 1 month ago in reply to Sean Masters I think innate talent roughly equalling to innate inclination is definitely a desirable ingredient. on the other hand. and so have dozens of others. All of these activities that you list.html 10/28/2010 .

I found that i was "deeply relaxed" when i played golf while the rest of the foursome kept complaining about their putting (which they practiced for 5 minutes before the round). Sally.. Tony. is not the recognition that practice is critical. The parallels are clear to me. I'm still working on applying your advice in other areas. http://blogs..Harvard Business Review Page 30 of 32 While still a passion. Aristotle nailed it over 2.understandings that have come out of research done mostly in the past 20 years.000 years ago. Like Reply Tony 2 months ago in reply to Sally Holloway The news. and I took another path that led into the corporate training field..I actually have applied the reverse thinking of what you are suggesting to golf." By relying on highly specific practices..hbr. to deeply relaxing".I like the list on areas you have helped clients improve their but the very specific ways in which we must practice to achieve excellence -.Tony Schwartz .now the deeply relaxing is something i can shot for. Like Reply Sally Holloway 2 months ago Hardly new news though. helping others become more too. Shashank Tripathi and 2 more liked this Like Reply ADD N EW COM MENT Optional: Login below. Twyla Tharp personifies it best for me as outlined in "The Creative Habit".html 10/28/2010 .the funny thing is that my game has improved or so i am told. Like Reply notmd 2 months ago Tony. we've seen our clients dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy. As you say. But I still tend to think different people have differing levels of genetic potential.. Like Reply Loren Paulsson 2 months ago in reply to notmd I measured a similar effect while training for a relay this spring. and were an important foundation for me. music did not turn out to be the right career choice for me. 1 person liked this. if not others..Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything .I always knew i could improve my golf game if I practiced(never fooled myself about genetics) so a few years ago i stopped keeping score and didn't practice. but I have recommitted to it and appreciate the research and advice.. Expect to see Merlin Mann's take on the theme in his upcoming book http://inboxzero. Like Reply Dklaila 2 months ago Sounds like what we hear at the Zendo...

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