Author: Geoff Colvin
Publisher: The Penguin GroupMyRating: 5/5
‘Talent Is Overrated’ is not another book in the volumes of ‘Performance Improvement Tips’ that fills you with motivation while reading and then pushes you into the black-hole of repentance when facing real life situations.
It would not be exaggeration if I call this book as ‘research paper’ aiming to present the available facts in easiest words possible. This book is an inside story of all the great achievers of the world; be it an organization or an individual.
The world often mesmerizes with the great shots of Tiger Woods in golf arena. They praises it as god’s gift or hard work without realizing that fact that his father made him to sit and watch him hitting shots hours after hours when he was only seven months old. The author claims that there is nothing like ‘natural talent’ or ‘hard work’ that makes any performer as best performer but it is the ‘Deliberate Practice’.
The author, Geoff Colvin, is the senior editor at Fortune. He is the lead moderator for the Fortune Global Forum and he co-anchored ‘Wall Street Week’ on PBS for three years. According to the author, both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. What really makes all the difference is a highly specific kind of effort that few of us pursue when we are practicing golf, pianos or stockpiling. This book shares the secret of extraordinary performances and how to apply these principles to our lives and work.
The book is divided into eleven chapters breaking the all-prevailing myths. And explain the steps to deliberate practice. I fail to find any assertion in the book that is not supported by any research and example. Colvin explains deliberate practice is a large concept. It’s about: what exactly need to be presented? Precisely how? Which specific skills or other assets must be acquired?
Deliberate practice is very hard and in most cases it is ‘not inherently enjoyable’, then why do some people put themselves through it day after day for decades, while most do not? Where does the necessary passion come from? The question has been answered in the last chapter ‘Where Does the Passion Come From?’
The passion to put oneself into the deliberate practice comes from intrinsic motivation. The intrinsically motivated state is conducive to creativity, whereas extrinsically motivated state is detrimental. To explain this author has used may illustrations, one of them is: ‘For most of the mathematicians, the joy of discovering a new way of solving problem was more important than a high test score or receiving good grade’.
But not all the time extrinsic motivations that do not work. It has been observed in many cases that extrinsic motivation stimulated intrinsic motivation. Like, “if you don’t do your piano practice we’ll sell the piano” or “If you do not go to swimming practice we’ll take you off the team”. If the child truly didn't care about the piano or swimming these threat wouldn't work but if he cares about them these threat will work for him.
Chapter five and six explains about what deliberate practice is and isn't and how deliberate practice works. How can we apply it in our lives and in organizations is addressed by section seven and eight in the book. There are three models of practice; the music model, the chess model and the sports model which can be applied in different arenas of practice.
No question is left unanswered by the end of this book. It is not that book that is entirely read in one deep breath. It is serious intervention in the personal and organizational performance set-up. The book is written in easy and racy (exciting and interesting) style. I recommend this book to everyone who struggled to perform well and to those who are in the field of training and development.