When we see performances from elite athletes it can be very easy to assume that they have been blessed with special talents from birth.
For anyone who has read ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell, ‘Talent is over-rated’ by Geoff Colvin or ‘Bounce’ by the award winning sports journalist Matthew Syed, you will know that the process of achieving excellence is far less mysterious.
Elite performance is the result of hours and then years of intensive practice; the conclusion is that it actually takes 10,000 hours or 10 years of practice to achieve this level of mastery. What’s more, it is the application of a specific approach to practice, in which the performer’s comfort zone is constantly being stretched to failure, that is the real key to this success.
What is startling, is that this actually causes changes to the individual’s physiology.
Here is a less glamorous example. All London taxi drivers need to be able to pass a special test called the Knowledge before they are let loose on London’s streets. Did you know, that the result of this mental training on the successful applicants is that the region of the brain that deals with spatial navigation is not only substantially larger than for non-taxi drivers but also continues to grow with additional time on the job.
That’s right, the brain actually gets bigger with training!
So, why is this so important?
Because it directly challenges the long held belief that talent is a gift that some people have and others don’t have. In other words, we all have the potential to become high achievers.
My advice is to discover what you love, what makes you feel fulfilled and then look at yourself in the mirror and ask “Am I prepared to invest 10,000 hours to make this a reality?”
I would argue that 10,000 hours to achieve your dream is a very fair trade.