Becoming A World Class Performer Is Complex

Editor/Collegiate Baseball
(Final Of A 2-Part Series)

NEW YORK — What separates world-class performers from everybody else and how are they able to focus at the task at hand when many others can’t?

These are questions many have asked for centuries, but not understood until now.

Geoff Colvin, senior editor at large of Fortune magazine, spent nearly two years researching this question.

He wrote a remarkable book called Talent Is Overrated.

According to Colvin, the short answer to being a world-class performer is practicing in a precision manner on a regular basis for 10,000 hours. But the subject is obviously much more complex than that.

“What separates world-class performers from everybody else is a deep question,” said Colvin.

“The simple answer is the thousands of hours these people spend with deliberate practice. But the question underneath that is why do they put in those thousands of hours when most people don’t? And why do they push themselves so they reach this level?

“But there is more to it than that. Two different people could put in the same amount of hours, and one person could just go through the motions while the other person could be intensely focused on it at all times. The second person would get much better results.

“So again, why do some people work so hard and with the requisite intensity? That is a much more difficult question. What I have come to believe in many fields, and sports is definitely one of them, is that training starts early in life, and the role of the parent is extremely important.

“At the same time, I have found that every great performer has a moment when motivation becomes internalized. The performer is no longer practicing hard because his parents are making him do it. It becomes his own quest and own pursuit. When that happens, it typically isn’t a goal that is driving him. It is because there is something in the activity itself that he finds rewarding.

“Wherever that comes from is what really separates world-class performers from everybody else. Research has been conducted by a number of people that suggests 10,000 hours of practice done in a precision manner is the magic number. And there is separate research, but related, that shows 10 years is generally necessary. These figures apply pretty well across most disciplines. That is why it is so striking whether you are talking about baseball, playing the cello, the violin or chess, in addition to a number of other disciplines.

“This information suggests that it takes a lot more work than most people realize to be a top performer. They simply aren’t born that way. Consider that 10,000 hours is an enormous amount of time. Twenty hours of deliberate practice a week is a lot by any standard. But you would have to do that for 10 years every week all year long for that amount of time. It’s a huge amount of work.”

To read more of this article, purchase the May 17, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Geoff Colvin delves into undisciplined practice, why it is important to practice what you don’t do well, why starting young in baseball is crucial, the development between parents and the child, plus much more. We also interview Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as he explains the psychology of optimal experiences.