We are what we repeatedly do

We are what we repeatedly do

mindset Jan 09, 2023

Malcolm Gladwell popularised the 10 000-hour rule in his book Outliers. And while some might argue that his assertation is an oversimplification of the research published by Ericsson in the Psychological Review, the idea is obvious really, isn't it...

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Will Durant

There aren’t any quick wins or silver bullets in life and business. Success requires quality repetition and grit to overcome resistance. If you're unfamiliar with Gladwell's book, he asserts that the key to achieving true expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing for at least 10,000 hours.

Gladwell estimates that the Beatles put in 10,000 hours of practice playing in Hamburg in the early 1960s, Bill Gates put in 10,000 hours of programming work before founding Microsoft, and famous concert violinists put in 10,000 hours too.

And while some question the validity of the 10,000 hours, the bottom line is you gotta put in the time.

“Our overnight success took 1,000 days.” - Brian Chesky, AirBnb founder.

So if we know that repeatedly practicing (with the right coaching) delivers results... why not just do it?

I'll tell you why: we humans are programmed to find the path of least resistance. 

Here's an example...

I committed myself to cold water swimming. The benefits are clear, it: boosts my immune system, reduces stress, burns calories, improves circulation, gives you a natural high, and those are the ones I can remember. But even after daily dips in the lake, it takes serious grit to overcome the mental resistance to plunge into the icy water.

My body keeps telling me that sitting on my couch, in a warm home, and watching Chris Hemsworth freeze his ass off in the Arctic is a far better idea.
But I repeatedly force myself to overcome the resistance and take the plunge.

When it comes to the goals you've set personally and professionally, the same remains true...

If writing three articles a week is what it's going to take for your business to become the go-to source of information in your industry. Or if having daily huddles is what it's going to take to create a high-performing leadership team. Push through the resistance.

When your head tells you to put off writing to binge on Netflix or sacrifice a huddle for something "more important," push through the resistance and put in the time. Repeatedly taking the path of least resistance and putting in a sub-optimal effort yet expecting top results is a pipe dream. 

One final point, according to Daniel Goleman, deliberate practice is often guided by an expert, skilled coach or mentor – “someone with an expert eye". Coaches and mentors can offer feedback on specific ways to improve, and without feedback, you don’t perform among the best.


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