Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything

Six keys to achieving excellence are:

1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus,
resilience, and perseverance.

2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and
away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found,
delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings,
before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy
and the fewest distractions.

3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than
90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the
maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any
given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice
no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more
precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too
much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase
anxiety, and interfere with learning.

5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only
provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed
learning. It's also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more
dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

6. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the
researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The
best way to insure you'll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific,
inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them
without having to squander energy thinking about them.

by Tony Schwartz

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