StockFetcher Forums · General Discussion · What it takes to be great<< 1 2 >>Post Follow-up
3 posts
msg #47780
Ignore kearsigirl
11/3/2006 11:44:19 AM

Thank you for sharing :)

283 posts
msg #47781
Ignore heypa
11/3/2006 12:52:24 PM

Without a healthy dose of innate talent no amount of work will allow one to become execptional in any endeavor whether mental or physical. The savants show a clear message.Most in depth study of anything specific results in assumptions being made and accepted by others that are not necessarily true. How many stories are there that basically say that the experts said it couldn'd be done but some lone thinker did it any way. We are all different. We are different in obvious ways such as physical and not so obvious ways such as mental. Each of us brings an array of skill sets into this world. It's up to each of us to discover our own abilities and to maximise our developement of such to our advantage.
Live long and prosper.

2,817 posts
msg #47782
Ignore chetron
11/3/2006 5:06:05 PM

there's always one. lol.

6,362 posts
msg #47773
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 7:50:41 AM

What it takes to be great
Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work
By Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor-at-large
October 19 2006: 3:14 PM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) -- What makes Tiger Woods great? What made Berkshire Hathaway (Charts) Chairman Warren Buffett the world's premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was "wired at birth to allocate capital." It's a one-in-a-million thing. You've got it - or you don't.

Well, folks, it's not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don't exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that's demanding and painful.

Born Winner? Golf champ Tiger Woods (pictured at 3 years old) never stopped trying to improve.

Woods (pictured in 2001) devoted hours to practice and even remade his Swing twice, because that's what it took to get better.

Buffett, for instance, is famed for his discipline and the hours he spends studying financial statements of potential investment targets. The good news is that your lack of a natural gift is irrelevant - talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great.

Scientific experts are producing remarkably consistent findings across a wide array of fields. Understand that talent doesn't mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It's an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, "The evidence we have surveyed ... does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts."

To see how the researchers could reach such a conclusion, consider the problem they were trying to solve. In virtually every field of endeavor, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely. Yet a few do improve for years and even decades, and go on to greatness.

The irresistible question - the "fundamental challenge" for researchers in this field, says the most prominent of them, professor K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University - is, Why? How are certain people able to go on improving? The answers begin with consistent observations about great performers in many fields.

Scientists worldwide have conducted scores of studies since the 1993 publication of a landmark paper by Ericsson and two colleagues, many focusing on sports, music and chess, in which performance is relatively easy to measure and plot over time. But plenty of additional studies have also examined other fields, including business.

No substitute for hard work
The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It's nice to believe that if you find the field where you're naturally gifted, you'll be great from day one, but it doesn't happen. There's no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.

What about Bobby Fischer, who became a chess grandmaster at 16? Turns out the rule holds: He'd had nine years of intensive study. And as John Horn of the University of Southern California and Hiromi Masunaga of California State University observe, "The ten-year rule represents a very rough estimate, and most researchers regard it as a minimum, not an average." In many fields (music, literature) elite performers need 20 or 30 years' experience before hitting their zenith.

So greatness isn't handed to anyone; it requires a lot of hard work. Yet that isn't enough, since many people work hard for decades without approaching greatness or even getting significantly better. What's missing?

Practice makes perfect
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.

For example: Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don't get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day - that's deliberate practice.

Consistency is crucial. As Ericsson notes, "Elite performers in many diverse domains have been found to practice, on the average, roughly the same amount every day, including weekends."

Evidence crosses a remarkable range of fields. In a study of 20-year-old violinists by Ericsson and colleagues, the best group (judged by conservatory teachers) averaged 10,000 hours of deliberate practice over their lives; the next-best averaged 7,500 hours; and the next, 5,000. It's the same story in surgery, insurance sales, and virtually every sport. More deliberate practice equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.

The skeptics
Not all researchers are totally onboard with the myth-of-talent hypothesis, though their objections go to its edges rather than its center. For one thing, there are the intangibles. Two athletes might work equally hard, but what explains the ability of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to perform at a higher level in the last two minutes of a game?

Researchers also note, for example, child prodigies who could speak, read or play music at an unusually early age. But on investigation those cases generally include highly involved parents. And many prodigies do not go on to greatness in their early field, while great performers include many who showed no special early aptitude.

Certainly some important traits are partly inherited, such as physical size and particular measures of intelligence, but those influence what a person doesn't do more than what he does; a five-footer will never be an NFL lineman, and a seven-footer will never be an Olympic gymnast. Even those restrictions are less severe than you'd expect: Ericsson notes, "Some international chess masters have IQs in the 90s." The more research that's done, the more solid the deliberate-practice model becomes.

Real-world examples
All this scholarly research is simply evidence for what great performers have been showing us for years. To take a handful of examples: Winston Churchill, one of the 20th century's greatest orators, practiced his speeches compulsively. Vladimir Horowitz supposedly said, "If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it." He was certainly a demon practicer, but the same quote has been attributed to world-class musicians like Ignace Paderewski and Luciano Pavarotti.

Many great athletes are legendary for the brutal discipline of their practice routines. In basketball, Michael Jordan practiced intensely beyond the already punishing team practices. (Had Jordan possessed some mammoth natural gift specifically for basketball, it seems unlikely he'd have been cut from his high school team.)

In football, all-time-great receiver Jerry Rice - passed up by 15 teams because they considered him too slow - practiced so hard that other players would get sick trying to keep up.

Tiger Woods is a textbook example of what the research shows. Because his father introduced him to golf at an extremely early age - 18 months - and encouraged him to practice intensively, Woods had racked up at least 15 years of practice by the time he became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, at age 18. Also in line with the findings, he has never stopped trying to improve, devoting many hours a day to conditioning and practice, even remaking his swing twice because that's what it took to get even better.

The business side
The evidence, scientific as well as anecdotal, seems overwhelmingly in favor of deliberate practice as the source of great performance. Just one problem: How do you practice business? Many elements of business, in fact, are directly practicable. Presenting, negotiating, delivering evaluations, deciphering financial statements - you can practice them all.

Still, they aren't the essence of great managerial performance. That requires making judgments and decisions with imperfect information in an uncertain environment, interacting with people, seeking information - can you practice those things too? You can, though not in the way you would practice a Chopin etude.

Instead, it's all about how you do what you're already doing - you create the practice in your work, which requires a few critical changes. The first is going at any task with a new goal: Instead of merely trying to get it done, you aim to get better at it.

Report writing involves finding information, analyzing it and presenting it - each an improvable skill. Chairing a board meeting requires understanding the company's strategy in the deepest way, forming a coherent view of coming market changes and setting a tone for the discussion. Anything that anyone does at work, from the most basic task to the most exalted, is an improvable skill.

Adopting a new mindset
Armed with that mindset, people go at a job in a new way. Research shows they process information more deeply and retain it longer. They want more information on what they're doing and seek other perspectives. They adopt a longer-term point of view. In the activity itself, the mindset persists. You aren't just doing the job, you're explicitly trying to get better at it in the larger sense.

Again, research shows that this difference in mental approach is vital. For example, when amateur singers take a singing lesson, they experience it as fun, a release of tension. But for professional singers, it's the opposite: They increase their concentration and focus on improving their performance during the lesson. Same activity, different mindset.

Feedback is crucial, and getting it should be no problem in business. Yet most people don't seek it; they just wait for it, half hoping it won't come. Without it, as Goldman Sachs leadership-development chief Steve Kerr says, "it's as if you're bowling through a curtain that comes down to knee level. If you don't know how successful you are, two things happen: One, you don't get any better, and two, you stop caring." In some companies, like General Electric, frequent feedback is part of the culture. If you aren't lucky enough to get that, seek it out.

Be the ball
Through the whole process, one of your goals is to build what the researchers call "mental models of your business" - pictures of how the elements fit together and influence one another. The more you work on it, the larger your mental models will become and the better your performance will grow.

Andy Grove could keep a model of a whole world-changing technology industry in his head and adapt Intel (Charts) as needed. Bill Gates, Microsoft's (Charts) founder, had the same knack: He could see at the dawn of the PC that his goal of a computer on every desk was realistic and would create an unimaginably large market. John D. Rockefeller, too, saw ahead when the world-changing new industry was oil. Napoleon was perhaps the greatest ever. He could not only hold all the elements of a vast battle in his mind but, more important, could also respond quickly when they shifted in unexpected ways.

That's a lot to focus on for the benefits of deliberate practice - and worthless without one more requirement: Do it regularly, not sporadically.

For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That's the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn't be rare. Which leads to possibly the deepest question about greatness. While experts understand an enormous amount about the behavior that produces great performance, they understand very little about where that behavior comes from.

The authors of one study conclude, "We still do not know which factors encourage individuals to engage in deliberate practice." Or as University of Michigan business school professor Noel Tichy puts it after 30 years of working with managers, "Some people are much more motivated than others, and that's the existential question I cannot answer - why."

The critical reality is that we are not hostage to some naturally granted level of talent. We can make ourselves what we will. Strangely, that idea is not popular. People hate abandoning the notion that they would coast to fame and riches if they found their talent. But that view is tragically constraining, because when they hit life's inevitable bumps in the road, they conclude that they just aren't gifted and give up.

Maybe we can't expect most people to achieve greatness. It's just too demanding. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn't reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.

6,362 posts
msg #47792
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 7:55:10 AM


Tip Sheet: Perfect Practice
1. Approach each critical task with an explicit goal of getting much better at it.
2. As you do the task, focus on what's happening and why you're doing it the way you are.
3. After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Make changes in your behavior as necessary.
4. Continually build mental models of your situation - your industry, your company, your career. Enlarge the models to encompass more factors.
5. Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work.

Looking at the TIP SHEET, it seems this applies perfectly to trading.

Tip Sheet: Perfect TRADING

1. Approach each TRADE with an explicit goal of getting much better at TRADING.

2. As you do the TRADE, focus on what's happening and why you're TRADING the way you are.

3. After the TRADE, get feedback (PROFIT/LOSS) on your performance from multiple sources. Make changes in your TRADING behavior as necessary.

4. Continually build mental models of your TRADING - your industry, your company, your career. Enlarge the models to encompass more factors.

5. Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional TRADING does not work.

6,362 posts
msg #47793
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 8:00:30 AM

Here's a PDF version:

6,362 posts
msg #47794
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 8:04:19 AM

How to Be Great at What You Do
Written on October 25th in Life, Leadership, Blog, Favs

Scenario: “Dude, I’m going to read the most business books, attend the most seminars, consult with the best mentors, and do all I can this winter — so I’ll become a businessperson that oozes with greatness. I’ll make billions. Yay!”


How Greatness Doesn’t Happen
Greatness takes years of focused practice to become that top millionth at what you do; you can’t get that overnight.

Instead, the information age has made our minds bent on constantly looking for the next great opportunity.

The common mindset among the business world and pop culture:

“Give me a couple of months, and I’ll become the greatest freakin’ badass you’ll ever see.”

For instance, you’ll find these common themes:

Silicon Valley: founders with 2-month managerial experiences believing they know “intuitively” how to manage an eventual multi-million dollar corporation
American Idol: singers with 2-month resumes blasting American Idol judges for not appreciating their “talents”
Fashion District: designers with 2-month pedigrees thinking they’ll kick the asses of Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson, and Yves Saint-Laurent in about a year
Web 2.0: entrepreneurs with 2-month programming expertise declaring they’ll learn and write the best application in the world, making billions in no time
One problem with the above:

Greatness doesn’t take two months, or even a year. It takes years of focused practice to achieve even an ounce of it.

Why Conventional Wisdom about Greatness Sucks
When people hold onto the “I’ll-be-the-greatest-badass-overnight” mindset, they trap themselves into a vicious never-ending cycle:

constantly jumping from opportunity-to-opportunity trying to impossibly kick ass in something overnight.

Think of any person you know trying to “re-invent” themselves.


It didn’t happen.
It took them years to do it.
It’s a reason why actors don’t immediately become great singers. It’s a reason why singers don’t become great actors.

It’s a reason why practically all ridiculously successful entrepreneurs can’t build another billion-dollar venture in a different industry.

It’s also a reason why track stars don’t become great football wide receivers: We mean besides, common wisdom says amazingly fast 100-meter sprinters should become great football wide receivers, right?

The quicker you beat your defender to a destination, the better you are at exploiting the defender, no?

The reason why track stars have sucked as wide receivers in the NFL: They haven’t developed the proper fundamentals, the footwork, the football instincts, and the play-making abilities that takes years to master.

That concept also explains why soccer stars have failed miserably as field goal kickers in the NFL.

How Greatness Happens
Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Mohandas Gandhi, the Wright Brothers, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Henry Ford, Bruce Lee, Whitney Houston needed more than ten years to develop their talents before the world started noticing.

As did Warren Buffett, Nelson Mandela, Katharine Hepburn, Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Tiger Woods, and Michael Schumacher. As did anybody else who’s rocked the mutha flukkin world.

According to K. Anders Ericsson, achieving greatness takes years of strenuous and deliberate practice to achieve it. In a 1993 study, he explained what distinguished greatness:

The critical difference between expert musicians differing in the level of attained solo performance concerned the amounts of time they had spent in solitary practice during their music development, which totaled around 10,000 hours by age 20 for the best experts, around 5,000 hours for the least accomplished expert musicians and only 2,000 hours for serious amateur pianists.

Ericsson found the same theme with other musicians, chess players, and athletes (and according to Fortune Mag: surgeons, and salespeople).

The point: If you want to majorly kick ass at something, start practicing like a fervent badass, knowing that you’ll need years before you even see a hint of greatness.

How Do You Become Great at Kicking Ass?
Greatness comes not from “just practicing,” but practicing efficiently.

For instance, you could shoot basketballs for ten years — but you won’t become the world’s best unless you do what Ericsson calls: “deliberate practice.”

That means that you use every practice opportunity to deliberately improve what you do.

Fortune editor Geoffrey Colvin describes that with a sweet analogy in his latest issue:

“Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate practice, which is why most golfers don’t get better. Hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80 percent of the time, continually observing results and making appropriate adjustments, and doing that for hours every day - that’s deliberate practice.”

The moral:

Greatness comes from years of kicking-ass in practice.

6,362 posts
msg #47795
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 8:25:01 AM


6,362 posts
msg #47796
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/4/2006 8:41:06 AM

This is fun!

6,362 posts
msg #47822
Ignore TheRumpledOne
11/5/2006 10:11:22 AM

Message #108

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”

Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie


By Michael Masterson

Accomplishing a goal has 3 phases: deciding to do it, determining what specific actions are necessary and in what order, and executing those actions.

By now you should have chosen your life goals and derived from them five-year, one-year, monthly and even weekly objectives. I have given you a very good system for getting them done. What’s left is the doing.

Ah, there’s the rub. Out of every 100 people who choose to do something, the majority will drop out before they begin because they don’t have an effective plan. Of those that remain, 80% will fail simply because they stopped the doing.

Execution, as they say, is nine-tenths of the game. So today we are going to talk about how long it takes to execute you goals.

My theory (a hopeful one, admittedly) is that if you begin a task with a realistic idea of how long it will take to accomplish it then your chances of finishing it are greatly improved.

If you decide to become a lawyer, you need to know that it will take you three years of full-time effort after college. If you decide to learn Spanish you are better off recognizing that a certain sum of hours is necessary to achieve any level of proficiency.

I have been thinking about this lately for several reasons. First because I’m learning two new physical activities (ballroom dancing and Jiu Jitsu) and I’m interested to find out how long it will take before I am “good” at them. Second because I am coaching some friends and relatives on career choices and need to be able to tell them how long specific tasks might take.

You might want to know, for example, how long it takes to:

* speak Spanish

* become a good public speaker

* dance well at weddings

* practice a martial art

* play a musical instrument

* learn the secrets of direct marketing

* become a good copywriter

Almost as soon as you ask the question, you realize that “how good” needs to be defined, for we recognize that it is possible to practice any skill at various levels of proficiency. To make matters simple, let’s say that, broadly speaking, you can have the following three levels of skill:

* competence

* mastery

* virtuosity

Anything worth doing takes time

Let’s illustrate this principle with ballroom dancing. You probably know people who move well on the dance floor. Whether it’s a cha-cha, a swing or a fox trot playing, they can go out there and make the moves. They are not professionals – they could not compete favorably in contests – but they are definitely competent. The next level – mastery – is the level of the professional dancer…. the teacher or the member of the dance troupe. It’s easy to see the difference between competence and mastery, isn’t it? Virtuosity? That’s Fred Astaire.

If one of a hundred dancers is competent, one of a hundred masters is at the Fred Astaire level.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, talking to professionals and recalling personal experiences. My conclusion is as follows:

* It takes about 1,000 hours to become competent at any worthwhile skill.

* It takes about 5,000 hours to master any skill.

* It takes between 25,000 and 35,000 hours to become world class. (And then only if you are gifted.)

Now these are ballpark numbers, but they are surprisingly reliable. Skeptical? Let’s check it out. What shall we use? How about language? How many hours would it take you to become a competent French speaker?

Based on my experience learning French, here’s a good guess:

* 300 hours to learn – cold – the 20 most common irregular verbs in three tenses.

* 100 hours to master about 50 prepositions, conjunctions and articles.

* 200 hours to get a good grasp of French grammar

* 200 hours to learn about 1,000 useful nouns

* 100 hours to memorize gender

* 50 hours to acquire passable pronunciation.

What does it all add up to? 950.

As I said, that would get you speaking well, but it would hardly qualify you as a French teacher. To get to that level you’d need to do a lot more work. Say you studied 2 hours a day and practiced for another 3 hours…and you did this for three years, you’d probably be ready to teach, don’t you think? You would have reached a level most would consider fluent.

Take one more example – Jiu Jitsu. I have been at it now for two years. I have spent about 600 hours and have just received my purple belt. I feel almost competent. I can easily handle white belts and most blue belts, but I struggle with good blue belts. I have the distinct feeling that I am about 100 hours away from competence.

Seven hundred hours is not 1,000, but in my case I’ve had the advantage of being trained by Reylson Gracie, probably the best instructor of his kind. That kind of education counts. In this case it “saved” me about 30% of the time I would have spent otherwise.

So I would make this adjustment to my theory. Deduct 20% to 30% for good teaching.

How you can take advantage of this observation

Think about the goals you have set for yourself. Have you allocated enough time to accomplish them?

Let me give you an example – an odd but true one.

The Case of the Terminal Bachelorette

A friend of mine – an attractive, intelligent woman – has been looking for the right man for as long as I’ve known her. She is committed to finding a man. And she has read books about how to do it. Yet nothing has happened.

The reason? She spends almost no time doing the things she needs to do. She feels like she spends all her time looking (because she thinks about it a lot and is open to blind dates, etc.) but she seldom actually goes out “there” and makes herself available.

I wondered if this new theory would work in her case and put the following proposition to her: If she put in 1,000 hours over a one-year timespan, she would have her man.

Since she had a full-time job, to spend 1,000 hours a year pursuing this objective she would have to get out there two hours every work-day evening and five hours on Saturday and Sunday.

“Imagine,” I said, “that after work each day you got yourself up and went somewhere – an art class, a charity event, a bar, etc. – and you did it by yourself and with focused energy on your task. And assume that each weekend day you did the same – maybe spending time in ProShops and health clubs, going to special events, etc – but for five hours each day.”

“What,” I asked, “would be the chance that you could do that every day for a year and still not have the relationship you are looking for?”

“Zero percent,” she said.

You can achieve what you want in life. You just have to make the effort, pay attention to what you are doing, and spend the time it requires to get there.

Now start thinking about what it is that you haven’t gotten around to doing. Something important. Something that will really improve your life.



From the Never-Give-Up department

Richard North Patterson rewrote his first novel, The Lasko Tangent, 4 times after it had received 14 rejection slips. It went on to win a prize for “best first suspense novel.” Since then he has written 10 novels, 5 of them best sellers.

(From Bits & Pieces, Ed. Robert Bly)

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