If someone else were to name the one thing you are known for being good at doing, or perhaps want to be known for, would they be able to do so? How critical is it that you would want them to be able to get this right?
Humans are complex, and it can be difficult to truly understand and appreciate one another on multiple levels. When it comes to the topic of talent, and being good at a particular thing, it is always interesting to consider how someone evolved to the talent level they have attained. Research supports that to master something, an individual needs to spend around ten thousand hours to reach the level of being exceptional, or considered to be an expert at something.
When you think about how many people actually get to the level of putting in the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery of whatever it is they are known for being good at, what does it take for this person to have this level of focus? Or, the command of discipline required to sustain those many hours of pursuing what they are doing? Does being passionate about something play a role in fueling the person to achieve the highest level of mastery?
Upon considering the people I have come across in my life who have reached the pinnacle of either their career, or the mastery of something they are known for that is not associated with their profession, I have found they all have one thing in common. What is this one thing they have in common? Surprisingly it’s a relatively simple concept.
All of these people will tell you that they love what they are doing. Matter of factly, they will also tell you that the time they are putting into, or have put into pursuing what they are doing or have achieved may in fact have seemed effortless to them. Not always, but many people who have reached a mastery level will also tell you that there were times when it was difficult doing what they were doing. Perhaps even times when they wanted to end their pursuit of mastery. However, all of them would agree that it was worth whatever they had to go through, sacrifice and endure.
This week I had the honor of speaking to a Gold Medal winning Olympian. I asked her what her journey was like to get to the level she attained. Her response was interesting. It was interesting because she only slightly references her own personal involvement in attaining her mastery. In other words, she talked about all of the people in her life, including her parents, coaches, friends and teammates that allowed her to achieve what she did.
This Olympian also mentioned that it was her sense of appreciation for being able to strive to be the best at what she was doing that was one of the contributing elements to her success. It was also the comraderie and support from her teammates along her journey that also contributed to making the difference in remaining focused on her talent contribution towards helping the team with the goal of winning an Olympic gold medal. I asked her what impact winning an Olympic Gold medal had on her life? She told me that it provided her with lifelong friends that she literally after many years, is still in daily contact with. Beyond this, they have supported one another via both numerous highs and lows in each other’s lives. However, she also told me that the best part of this type of friendship, is how they would literally consider one another to be family members, and support each other no matter what the circumstances were.
If you are on your way to mastering something you want to be known for either personally or professionally, below are some suggestions to consider to help you to continue on your path. Especially on days that might be slightly more difficult to do so.
- Pause for a moment. During this pause, consider and make sure you are in fact focusing on something that you either are naturally gifted at doing, or have enough passion for to pursue achieving, regardless of how difficult it will be to do so.
- Not everyone is intended to achieve a mastery level of something, but if you are inclined to be one of these people, make sure you have people in your life that will be able to emotionally support you on this journey.
- Socially prune out the people in your life who are not supportive of your quest.
- Always keep your end goal in mind, or written down and in a place you can reference.
- Visualize both how it will feel, and what you expect your situation will be like once you master your “thing” you are striving to become an expert in.
- Focus on the impact your mastery achievement will potentially and positively impact not only you, but others (e.g., you could be a role model for someone).
- There may be days, even weeks when you might not be able to pursue taking your talent to the next level. Yes, this might feel like a set-back, but keep time in perspective, and understand you are metaphorically running a marathon, not a sprint.
- Look for inspiration from others, nature, music, or whatever it takes to keep your motivation level where it needs to be in pursuit of your mastery.
Eventually, if someone wants to achieve something, and they have an innate and burning desire to do so, they will get to the place of being known for what they are doing and good at. Going on this journey will be a long one, but if you have the right mindset, and desire to get there, nothing can really prevent you from getting there. Even if the definition of your mastery level is altered at some point along the way, ultimately you are the one who is defining what success of your talent means, and what you are great at either personally or professionally. Perhaps both.
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