Unfortunately too many people dislike their jobs and scientific research shows that’s it’s incredibly hard to be good at something you don’t enjoy. Studies also show that being good at your job has nothing to do with inherent talents so if you’re waiting to find something you were “born to do” it’s time to rethink your career plan!
Researchers studied expert performers across many different industries to work out what made them experts – were they born with fabulous talent or is their success down to something else? The good news is that ‘The Cambridge Handbook Of Expertise and Expert Performance’ concluded that people who excel in their area of expertise are nearly always made, not born. So there’s hope for us all!
What became very clear during the study was that these people were passionate about their jobs. They set goals and worked hard to achieve them, they regularly sought feedback and they focused on on how they could continually improve their skills and knowledge.
Significantly, they loved what they did and were motivated to keep learning and developing. As Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner from The New York Times Magazine said, expert performers “whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming” are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect.”
The results of this study probably don’t come as a blinding surprise, but it is a useful reminder that we’re capable of achieving anything when we love what we do. You don’t need to be born with a particular skill or talent to be successful, but you do need to enjoy the task at hand and truly want to improve and develop.
The study showed that people who weren’t successful lacked the desire “to undertake the deliberate practice that would make them better”. It goes without saying that if you don’t like something, you probably won’t want to keep doing it!
The study also pointed out that a lot of people believe they’re born with inherent limits which is why they think they can’t excel in a particular area. However “there’s surprisingly little hard evidence that anyone could attain any kind of exceptional performance without spending a lot of time perfecting it”.
So if you’re holding off pursuing your ideal career because you weren’t born with a particular skill or talent, I’m afraid that excuse has just been blown out of the water!
If you would like to excel in your career, firstly consider whether you enjoy your job? It doesn’t matter how good you are at it now – what’s important is how much you like it and are inspired by it. The key to being an ‘expert’ – or being truly successful at what you do – is to find something you love doing and that you’re willing to work hard at and practice over and over again. Unfortunately many people aren’t willing to invest the time and effort required to create a career they love. Are you?
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