You’ve got to keep at it to be any good at it – Insight from Itzhak Perlman (and others)

Outliers is on top on this month's best sellers list

The people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.
Malcolm Galdwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

The factor that seems to explain the most about great performance is something the researchers call deliberate practice. (This) definitely isn’t what most of us do on the job every day, which begins to explain the great mystery of the workplace – why we’re surrounded by so many people who have worked hard for decades but have never approached greatness. Deliberate practice is hard. It hurts. But it works. More of it equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.
Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated
What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody ElseTalent is Overrated

(Itzhak) PERLMAN: …To play very well. So I’m very, very – as I said, it’s an evolving process. No, but seriously, it’s something that you do gradually, you know? I started when I was 5, really, you know? And then after eight years, I was still at it. So that’s good, you know? And so you go from – you know, you go from year to year and that’s what happens.
Itzhak Perlman, Interviewed by Mike Pesca on wait wait…don’t tell me!


You’ve got to do it every day. What is “it?” It is whatever you intend to be good at, very good at, and then even better than that at.

Do you want to get better at speaking? Speak often – very, very often.

Do you want to get better at writing? Then write, every day, every day of every week, every day of every week of every year. And then, read what you write aloud, just to hear how it sounds. Does it make sense; does it flow well? Is there anything compelling about what you wrote?

Do you want to get better at being a good team member? Then listen better; keep quiet, and listen more; and read more, a lot more, about what makes successful teams and successful team members.

Do you want to get better at using certain software or apps? Then use them – every day, all the time.

Oh, and while you do these activities every day, be mindful of how you do them. Pay attention to not just the task at hand, but how you do the task at hand.

And, ask a knowledgeable person (a “coach) to watch you, critique you, point out the good and the bad, and help you get better.

Itzhak PerlmanOne reason Itzhak Perlman is the violinist he is is that he kept at it. He did not quit keeping at it at age 8, or age 18, or age 38… He is still at it.

You’ve got to keep at it to be any good at it.

Or, to quote Woody Allen — Eighty percent of success is showing up.”




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