Talent is overrated. You know this. According to Angela Duckworth’s research, covered nicely in her first book titled Grit, talent is a starting point – nothing more. Her performance formula is as follows:
Talent X effort = skill.
Skill X effort = accomplishment.
This is another partial truth that’s good to sell books but not so good in the real world of work. What’s true is that effort counts twice. Effort multiplies your talent and effort multiplies your skill. As you approach mastery in whatever skill you’re building, the effort required for incremental gain goes up and the frequency for gains is elongated. Translation. Masters marry the mundane and keep working on domain specific expertise for hour after hour after hour. Most of us quit when we reach some comfortable performance plateau. Skills slowly diminish. Fact.
Here’s the nuance for building sustained accomplishment, regardless the work. Remember you can’t do it by yourself, you’ve got to increase collaborative effort. Translation. Masters do not work alone. Masters understand the new science – nobody is as smart as everybody. So, today’s masters expend effort working collaboratively with teammates, competitors, coaches, and any others that can multiply their performance. Together we improve, remember, is the BTL tag line because it’s true. Together we improve. This does not mean you don’t have to work hard on your own. You do. It’s just not enough. You also have to work well with others and have the humility to hear other ideas, criticisms, and critiques. And, the humility to give help too…
Talent is overrated. Collaboration and effort are underrated. The best individuals learn from teammates and teach ’em too. Last night, a couple teams of Buckeyes were given the opportunity to get better. Some chose to take advantage by giving a full measure of effort in building their mind. Some chose to take a break. Some clearly enjoyed their playtime prior to practice more than they did the actual opportunity to build mastery on the mat. We ended both practices with the story of Carlton Bragg and Frank Mason. Carlton has been blessed with basketball talent oozing from his pores. Frank just grew up poor and poured himself into his love of playing ball. One came into KU a 5 Star, can’t miss kinda recruit. One came in as afterthought. One might end up being player of the year. One has ended up on the bench.
So, friend, the recipe for you improving your performance is around taking whatever talent you have and putting it to work. This requires effort. And, you gotta keep building skill once you accomplish some level of competence. Skill growth still requires effort. And, unlike Carlton, you’ve got to avoid distractions. Just because you’ve been blessed with talent doesn’t mean you can’t miss. So, friend, if you’re aimed at mastery, you’ve got to expend effort. Lots of effort. Marry the mundane kinda effort. Working on the physical skills kinda effort as well as the mind. You cannot do it alone. You must expend effort collaborating with colleagues. And, you must sharpen yourself with iron. Stop running from the tough competitors. Your tough competitors are not to be feared. Your tough competitors are just people striving to get better together. Embrace that kinda mindsets friend.
Do you love this work of yours? Do you love this team of yours? Are your habits creating another Carlton Bragg or Frank Mason kinda performer? Whatever your habits, friend, they are who you are. You don’t break them. You build better ones. Start making it a habit of your heart to make your mind up to always control your effort. Give a full measure. Do not cheat yourself or your mates. You may not become a player of the year candidate, but you’ll be a player at peace with your performance and a darn good teammate we can trust. Slow down and reflect, friend. Slow down and reflect…