📖Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

Colvin, Geoff
  • “Experience trap”—people with experience do not perform better than those with very little experience (some even perform worse) → Experience Trap
  • world-class performance drastically increased since some 100-200 years—because we study more effectively
  • financial capital is no longer a scarce resource—human ability is
  • global human ability market
  • there is a research showing the talent does not exist (or irrelevant to top-level performance)
  • no genes identifying talent were found yet
  • There is little or no correlation between high performance and IQ
  • High performers remember well real-world arrangements, but are “normal” on random tests → Mental models make things easier to remember
  • Football players spend little time playing football—most of time is devoted to training which has little to do with the game itself → Deliberate Practice might not be directly related to the target activity
  • train for

    • specific needs
    • on his own (much of work)
    • no fun
  • Deliberate Practice: → Signs of Deliberate Practice

    • designed specifically to improve performance

      • (might be designed with the help of teacher)
      • (teacher can observe you from the outside)
    • at limits (but not much beyond)

      • (choose a specific aspect that needs improvements)
    • can be repeated a lot
    • continuously available feedback

      • (teacher can provide feedback)
    • highly demanding mentally or heavily physical

      • (4/5 hours/day)
      • (60-90 minutes sessions)
    • isn’t much fun
  • There is nothing magical about 10,000 hours (it’s just an average number of hours best violinist have by age 20) → 10,000 Hours Rule
  • Best performers do not perform on auto-pilot or automatically—they think through what they’re doing
  • Look ahead in the future (try predicting and playing through different situations)
  • how to

    • Know where you want to go (role-model after a better performer)
    • Practice directly

      • Music model

        • repeat the same thing multiple times
      • Chess model

        • solve problem and compare solution
      • Sports model

        • general skills (like fitness, etc.)

          • useful for repetitive but unpredictable conditions
    • Practicing in the work (self-regulation)

      • before

        • set goals
        • plan how to reach
      • in process

        • self-observation
      • after

        • self-evaluation (search for errors)
    • Deepening your knowledge (domain knowledge)
    • Mental model
  • For organizations:

    • understand that each person in organization is not just doing a job, but is also been stretched and grown
    • find ways to develop leaders withing their jobs

      • use short-term job assignments (additional to main job)
    • encourage their leaders to be active in their communities
    • understand the critical roles of teachers and of feedback

      • after-action review, honest feedback
    • identify promising performers early
    • understand that people development works best through inspiration, not authority
    • invest significant time, money, and energy in developing people
    • make leadership development part of the culture
    • develop teams, not just individuals

      • problems:

        • picking the wrong team members
        • low trust
        • competing agendas
        • unresolved conflicts
        • unwillingness to face real issues
  • Innovation is neither spontaneous, nor requires no knowledge. These are both myths. In reality, innovation requires extensive knowledge of the field and builds gradually.
  • Innovation also requires direction. Being “more creative” or “better” does not give a clue of what need to be achieved.
  • Innovation is better done using internal Motivation, rather than external stimulation (as anything else?)
  • Deliberate Practice stops aging effect in the related skills
  • Multiplier effect—small initial advancement in skill pushes to the new environment that advances the skill further, fueling the loop.


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