Book Review: Talent is Overrated, What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everyone Else

I want to become a great Aikido master, a great Filmmaker, and great at money maker. Do you want to be great at something? Cody Wanner, the founder of the movement  #nosmallcreator, introduced me to Jeff Bartch of Story Greenlight. In one of his vlogs, I was introduced to a book By Geoff Colvin titled, Talent is Overrated, What Really Separates World Class Performers from Everybody else.

I’ve always wanted to do book reviews, so here goes my first attempt.  Please comment below to let me know what you thought about it. And don’t remember to subscribe to my channel!

Talent is Overrated, What Really Separates World Class Performers from Everybody else is broken up into 3 parts, the beginning, the middle and the end, or actually just like a film, The introduction, the conflict and the resolution.

The first 4 chapters, introduce us to the myth that we need something special, like talent, to become great.  Geoff throws around names like Tiger Woods, Van Gogh, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, Jeffrey Immelt, Steven Ballmer,   Jack Welch, Andy Grove, Itzhak Perlman, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Chris Rock and Jerry Rice, just to name a few.

The next 5 chapters, detail how hard it is to become great at something.

And the grand finale, the last chapter, chapter 11 and it’s  19 pages tells us exactly what we need in order to go from average to great.   Give me a few minutes and I’ll sum up those last pages in two easy to understand points.

But before I do that, I’ll tell you a little more about the book and it’s author.  Geoff Colvin is the senior editor of Fortune. He is one of the most respected journalists in the United States.  

A while back, he was asked to write an article for Fortune about performance, which inspired him to write this book backed by over 30 years of research on performance.  

This book starts by debunking a belief, only to tell us at the end that it’s our belief that makes the difference.

The first myth debunked for me was the Tiger Woods story on winning the Masters at 21 years old.  At first I thought he was special, and that his grandfather had taken him to the golf course a few times and he was a natural, but it turns out that when Tiger Woods was 2 years old, his dad retired, and focused his life on the two things he loved the most, golfing and teaching. So he gave Tiger Woods a golf club and took  him to the golf course everyday and taught him golf. What does that mean…..it means that by the time he was 21 years old, and won The Masters Tournament, he had played golf passionately for 19 years!

OK, That’s the first road block in the quest to become a World Class Performer…..Time!  I’m really, really good at Aikido. But, I’m not talented or special, it’s just that I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 5 years old, on and off, then really, really seriously since I was 20.  I’m 48 now, so technically I’ve been doing martial arts for 43 years, of those 43, I’d say that 28 years have been super intense and focused, which comes to our second roadblock, practice doesn’t make you the best, it might make you better, but, according to Covin it’s Deliberate Practice that separates you from everyone else.

And, that’s what the second part of his book is all about: Deliberate Practice.  What does that mean, how to do it and how difficult it is to do. He gives us examples and real life stories, like Jerry Rice.  I had no idea who Jerry Rice was until I read this book, but my son knew right away!

Jerry Rice’s story is very interesting and very inspiring, especially for someone like me at 48 years old!  If you don’t know who he is, he’s the all time greatest wide receiver in NFL history, he’s also a played into his 40’s, which is unheard of in Football.  What was striking about him is that in college he wasn’t that fast of a runner, so during the drafts to go professional, not many teams were interested in him.  But his hard work, and deliberate practice, even in the off season, is what separated him from all of the other players, and that’s what kept him in the game so long.

I just started rock climbing 5 years ago, I climb almost every day, I started climbing as a form of therapy.  You see, my son passed away 5 years ago, and rock climbing was my way to deal with it. But, now 5 years in, I’m starting to get good.  I can even get on advanced routes and I’ve developed a strength, in my 40’s, that’s pretty amazing.

Colvin discusses that the two main factors in becoming a world class performer are time and deliberate practice.  10 years of deliberate practice is just about what you need. So, in 5 more years, I should be a rock solid world class rock climber!!!!

Time and deliberate practice.  

Let that sink in a minute.  

Time and deliberate practice.

So, maybe you want to become a world class stock broker, or a world class driver, or a world class doctor.  You may be a genius, or you might have talent, but that will not separate you from everyone else. Deliberate Practice will.  

I was pretty shocked when Colvin uncovered the truth about Mozart.  It seems that he wasn’t the genius everyone painted him out to be. Like Tiger woods, Mozart’s dad was a composer and a teacher, and from when he was born, his dad taught him to compose.  It’s also been shown that his first four piano compositions, when he was 11 years old, had no original music in them.

Ok so now let’s get to the Resolution, or the Grand Finale of the book, where Colvin breaks it down into two simple steps in becoming a world class performer.  What’s gon’na get us through the “time and deliberate practice stage to become a world class performer. Colvin uses the story of Shizuka Arakawa who won the gold medal in the 2006 Olympics for figure skating as an example of the challenges we face.  He calculates that she must have fallen on her derriere 20,000 times on a hard cold surface on her path to become a gold medalist. By the way, have you seen my vlog titled, “The path to success is paved with failure.” Click above to watch it.

Colvin points us in the right direction:  What are the two main conclusions that will make you a world class performer, while you put in the time and Deliberate practice:   

#1. Your motivation, I think that’s your why, which usually changes over time.

#2 Your Belief, Do you believe you can do it?

The motivation, or the WHY Are you doing this, in combination with your belief, do you believe you can do it plays the biggest role in making it to the top.

Colvin start with debunking common beliefs about talent, only to conclude with making sure our beliefs align with what we are trying to accomplish.

This book is a must read for anyone that wants to be successful or great at something, and especially for those people who think they’re not successful because they don’t have the talent.

I really like this bible quote, “If you believe, all things are possible!”  Mark 9:23

I hope you enjoyed my first book review, if you’d like to read the book, there’s a link in the description.  Please comment below and let me know what you think, or let me know what book you’d like for me to review.

Do you want to learn more about deliberate practice and enjoy the benefits of Aikido, if so, come and try a class.  Visit my website for more information. And, remember to like, subscribe and share!  And to be notified on future uploads, please click on the bell.

The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call “deliberate practice.” It’s activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.

– Geoff Colvin

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