What it takes to be great

What it takes to be great - What it takes to be great By...

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1 What it takes to be great By Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor-at-large October 19 2006: 3:14 PM EDT ( Fortune October 30, 2006 issue) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/ Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work What makes Tiger Woods great? What made Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett the world's premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was "wired at birth to allocate capital." It's a one-in-a-million thing. You've got it - or you don't. Well, folks, it's not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don't exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that's demanding and painful. Buffett, for instance, is famed for his discipline and the hours he spends studying financial statements of potential investment targets. The good news is that your lack of a natural gift is irrelevant - talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great. Scientific experts are producing remarkably consistent findings across a wide array of fields. Understand that talent doesn't mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It's an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, "The evidence we have surveyed . .. does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts." To see how the researchers could reach such a conclusion, consider the problem they were trying to solve. In virtually every field of endeavor, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely. Yet a few do improve for years and even decades, and go on to greatness. The irresistible question - the "fundamental challenge" for researchers in this field, says the most prominent of them, professor K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University - is, Why? How are certain people able to go on improving? The answers begin with consistent observations about great performers in many fields. Scientists worldwide have conducted scores of studies since the 1993 publication of a landmark paper by Ericsson and two colleagues, many focusing on sports, music and chess, in which performance is relatively easy to measure and plot over time. But plenty of additional studies have also examined other fields, including business.
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2 No substitute for hard work The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It's nice to believe that if
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This note was uploaded on 08/08/2008 for the course AAE 320 taught by Professor Mitchell during the Spring '08 term at Wisconsin.

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What it takes to be great - What it takes to be great By...

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