The premise of Tony Schwartz’s article is that any talent, skill or ability can be developed like a muscle, that is by working it out, by pushing past the comfort zone, breaking it and then resting. It reminds me very much like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw.
Schwartz refers to Aristotle’s “We are what we repeatedly do” explaining that repetition and practice is the key to real performance improvement as well as overall benefits for focussing, being creative, empathic and less stressed.
If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That’s true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you’ve earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.
Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:
- Pursue what you love.
- Do the hardest work first.
- Practice intensely.
- Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
- Take regular renewal breaks.
- Ritualize practice.
He details these keys in his post, giving tips on how one might start on this path of self-improvement.
- Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything | Harvard Business Review | Tony Schwartz | 24 August 2010