Prescription for High Performance

Is talent immaterial compared to disciplined work? Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrrated suggests as much. Colvin prescribes that deliberate, difficult, challenging practice is what leads to extraordinary performance. This book affected how I think about parenting and very much influenced my daily routine.

Here are a few of the most interesting ideas and quotes I found in the book:

  • Focus relentlessly on performance.
  • Be intensely specific.
  • “Practice activities are worthless without useful feedback about the results.”
  • “Trust is the most fundamental element of a winning team.”
  • “While it has often been observed that those who work the hardest seem to be the luckiest, the fact remains that if a bridge collapses while you’re driving over it, nothing else matters.”
  • “Above all, what the evidence shouts most loudly is striking, liberating news: that great performance is not reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.”

The stories about memory research reminded me of one of my favorite Morning Edition commentaries: Speed Rules in Match Class. Math freaks… awesome.

  • July 7, 2010 at 9:19 pm Dave Holowiski

    This brings to mind the saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. “, or “work smarter, not harder”.
    I read this book and it really makes sense that just doing something over and over isn’t going to make you any better, it’s the act of disciplined, deliberate practice that makes you better.

    Have you read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers? It has a similar premise to this book. I actually read that they were based on the same paper – “Making of an expert” by K. Anders Ericsson

  • September 1, 2010 at 4:49 am Sterling

    Hi Sheri. Saw your photo on Matt’s Alta hiking post. Fun.

    Love “Talent Is Overrated”. It goes well with Malcolm Gladwell’s message of mastery requiring 10,000 hours of effort that he presents in “Outliers”.

    But I think my favorite book on the subject of effort over talent is “Bounce” by Mathew Syed. Must read for anyone interested in performance & excellence.

    Great job on the quotes you picked from the book. Makes me want to reread the book.

    take care…