… first get to the frontier.

In every Olympics including this year’s games, new world records are being set by those who continue to innovate the way they train and perform. In renowned expertise researcher, K. Anders Ericsson’s, book on performance, Peak, I came across this quote that served as a great reminder.

Progress is made by those who are working on the frontiers of what is known and what is possible to do, not by those who haven’t put in the effort needed to reach that frontier.

To innovate and be better than the best, first emulate the best (like Ben Franklin).

A few easy-to-understand-yet-difficult-to-do tips:

  1. Practice purposefully by staying one or two steps outside of your comfort zone
    • You know you are at the limits of your ability if you are engaged in an activity that requires your FULL concentration and effort
  2. Study the best performers in your field and learn their mental representations
    • What are the thoughts and practices they developed about their craft that allows them to accurately assess and fix their own mistakes?
  3. Find a way to get concrete feedback for your performance so you can track your progress and pinpoint where you are falling short
  4. Believe you can be better than the best
  5. Work harder than everyone else you know

“When you want to achieve something and you believe that you can, you work harder”

– Philip Zimbardo, Stanford Psychologistm in The Time Paradox

In your quest to be better than the best, don’t be surprised if you hit a few plateaus. When you do, step further out of your comfort zone to reveal the particular gap in your skill set. Set up your practice to work on the isolated issue only. This should help you move beyond the plateau.

To make the world better, we should all strive to be better than the best. If you follow the steps above consistently and persistently, you have a good chance of getting there.

Photo by Marco Paköeningrat

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