I excitedly picked up my March/April copy of mental_floss today, lured in by what the titled promised; “The Genius Guide to Success.”
I read through the pages, enjoying each tip, strategy and idea that came from top achieves in our society both, past and present. Then, found myself on page 36 where MF cited the idea of practicing and how it applies to successful execution. Some interesting things came out of this section of the article as it exposed the habits of top performers. I outline these below:
Glen Gould, pianist : Preferred to practice mentally. Believing that he performed best when he didn’t touch a piano for a month.
Slash, Guns N’ Roses guitarist : Practiced 12 hours a day while in high school. Doesn’t practice now.
Wynton Marsalis, trumpeter : Played 4-5 hours per day in high school.
Jonas Salk, scientist : Spent 16 hours researching the polio vaccine.
Nik Wallenda, tightrope walker : Practiced 3-4 hours a day before walking between two Chicago skyscrapers.
Eminem, rapper : Read the dictionary 2-3 hours every day in order to improve his vocabulary and rhyming skills.
After looking at all these practice habits by top performers, you may be wondering what the commonality is. Well, this secret is hidden in plain sight. The answer is not found in the amount of practice they sustained rather, what they practiced. They all zeroed in on the main skill or technique that would give them the edge. They focused in on the routine that worked best for sharpening their skills. Then, they refined it over and over and over again. Something else you may pull from this is the shift in perspective from practice as work, to practice as refinement. Essentially, that’s what you’re doing when you are rehearsing a key skill. You are refining it in order to embed quality habits so that the practitioner is able to call on these skills at a moments notice with a limited amount of risk.
In conclusion, we learn that top performers take sharpening key skills, seriously. They, as we should, look for the ONE skill that will give them the greatest benefit. Therein, allowing them to access this skill at any time under any amount of pressure. This makes them quick, efficient and the best. Ultimately, in order for this to work we need to clear the clutter that takes up a lot of our time and focus on the main skill that will leverage a competitive advantage. By doing this we can soon see ourselves among the greats in our society.