Practice makes perfect: How to be successful through hard work

suc·cess: A favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.

Many factors go into individuals being successful.

  • Talent
  • Motivation
  • Feedback
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • A little luck along the way

Still, I think that good old-fashioned hard work adds the most to a successful outcome. It certainly makes us appreciate things that aren’t so hard!

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I came across an article recently from Fortune magazine that discussed this very subject. The article references a landmark study by K. Anders Ericsson from Florida State University about why certain people continue to improve and go onto greatness.

It all boils down to hard work. A number of examples were given to demonstrate this fact.

  • Bobby Fischer became a chess grandmaster at the age of 16.  Clearly some natural talent there, but he had over nine years of intensive study leading up to that.
  • Winston Churchill practiced his speeches compulsively.
  • Michael Jordan would practice well beyond the normal team practice time.

Have you ever heard of them? I could list more, but you get the point. Researchers refer to this as ‘deliberate practice”.  This is practice that is geared toward improving performance and not just practicing to practice.

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This idea of practice is easy to demonstrate when talking about sports – but how can we translate this to business and the jobs we are doing?

Constant improvement

People that are working through a particular job and seeing how they can improve and not simply trying to “get it done”, will see positive results. Written goals are a huge factor in improvement. You have to measure before you can conclude.

Feedback

Asking others for feedback on the job you are doing can be difficult for many since they may not like the answer. But, those that do and learn from that feedback will continue to grow and improve in their job. Be honest with yourself and others about progress.

Motivation

Not everyone has the same level of motivation.  Why? That is another topic, but clearly people with high levels of motivation will most likely be successful when combined with the previous attributes.

Try and keep these ideas present as you “deliberately practice” your craft whatever that may be and see the results you produce. Remember: You have to aim for the stars. You may only get to the moon, yet you were still able to leave earth in doing so.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this as we all continue to strive to be the best we can be.

Bill Hoover – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.