What do expert performers like Mozart, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Picasso, The Beatles and Steve Nash have in common? Why are some people extremely good at what they do?
Researchers who have studied expert performers tell us they have a few things in common: a passion for their subject, which in turn fuels a brand of focused practice that researchers have named "deliberate practice" (DP). This form of practice is purposeful and intense - one that few people engage in because it is so demanding. The vast majority of these superior performers also had devoted teachers who were knowledgeable enough to guide their progress and give feedback that would enable further improvement. For example, Mozart, who is often depicted as a musical prodigy, put in years of intense practice with his father (starting at age 3) before producing what are now considered to be his masterpieces in his early twenties. His father just happened to be - get this - a noted composer and music teacher who was very interested in how music could be most effectively taught to children.
Tiger Woods, once called the "Mozart of Golf," had a father who was a teacher and golf fanatic; Earl Woods began his son's training at a young age. Yet it wasn't until Tiger was 19 years old, however, that he won a significant, world class level event.
So it's fair to say that world class performers are people who have 1) developed a passion, 2) have had the opportunity to work with a dedicated teacher who guides their training, and 3) then developed a work ethic to sustain them during the sometimes grueling growth process. As author Malcolm Gladwell puts it in his book Outliers, great performers don't just work harder, they work much, much harder. Superior performers in every field studied have all put in hours of systematically designed practice and they were offered feedback from their coaches; researchers simply haven't found an exception to this process. In other words, outstanding performers are made, not born.
So the question is: what is your passion? And just how good do you want to be?