What does correlate with success?

Experts are always made, not born. 

When I saw Petra Kvitova in television won the Wimbledon. I felt miserable. She is 21, a world class professional. I'm 22 and what am I?  That was a hard dose of reality and a single question kicked me out of my comfort zone. How can you become a world class professional?

Dear friends and welcome guests,

Have you ever asked a similar question?


In the year 2007 in Harvard Business Review an extraordinary article “The Making of an Expert“ was published. A team of scientists made a thorough analysis of whole life of more than a hundred professionals. Something that stuck my mind came out of that survey. That persistence trumps talent.


Imagine all the people you have met a few years ago and from that time they haven't made any significant progress. They work hard, they sit and do their job and even walk an extra mile, but somehow (pause) there is no progress what so ever.  (Say it slowly, word by word).


In Taiwan at a Toastmaster district conference I met a double a Chinese speech contest champion in that area and a triple English speech contest champion. I attended his workshop. Let me describe you the most inspiring part of his presentation. I was amazed by the way he practiced.


First of all, he would write the script of his speech. Then he would cut out each paragraph. He would pick one paragraph after another and say aloud the paragraph before and the paragraph after. After doing this for a few days he would cut out every single sentence of his whole speech. Then he would randomly pick one sentence after another and say aloud the sentence before and after. Cut out every single sentence. How much time do you invest in your speech? You see, he understands there is a significant difference between practice and deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is repeating the same activity you are not good at, extending the reach and range of your skill. Not only repeating something you already know, it has to be challenging.


Not every practice makes perfect. To make a really visible progress you need to engage in deliberate practice. Practicing something you already know won't help you. You need to stretch you skills. Hard work and deliberate practice.  Take for example Dana Zátopková, a Czech gold medal Olympic javelin thrower practiced her arm by putting a log on her shoulder and she would continually chop the log with an axe in her other hand until splitting the log. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work, as Edison said.


You might ask yourself that they are skills that can't be learned such as charisma or persuasions. To break this myth scientists have developed a set of acting exercises that help executives develop their charisma and persuasion skills, traits that many people think are innate. It's easy to fall into the habit of doing the same practice every day. If you want to become even better at what we do, better at speaking, better at leadership or your work, you need to practice deliberately what you can't do well or can’t do at all. Don't believe that were not born with the trait you want to have so much.



Remember that. It’s deliberate practice, not your IQ or whatever, that leads to expertise. It's sitting down and giving your time in it. Who are you and what you do? The world is littered with people with great talent. Focus on yourself, focus on deliberate practice. If you are a speaker, speak. If you are an entrepreneur, start a venture. If you are a teacher, teach. It’s so simple. It's human nature to practice what we are good at. But dear friends, do you really believe that you are going to make any progress by repeating something you already know?


Is mediocrity enough for you? Life is too short to be satisfied with what you have when you can have much more.


What will you do?


*script for my 9th speech at Prague Speakers Toastmasters club, http://www.praguespeakers.org/