Career With A Purpose 10.0: Personal Steps from Good to Great

Personal Steps from Good to Great

Career With A Purpose 10.0


In his 2001 classic Good to Great, management consultant Jim Collins identified seven factors or characteristics that can enable businesses to outpace competitors and reach the highest of industry goals.

While the book is an especially interesting read for CEOs, department heads, and corporate board members, several of these characteristics seem to be applicable to individual achievement, as well. Two that come to mind are: (1) taking a hard look at the facts of one’s current situation (2) creating a culture of discipline through careful training and practice.

These two qualities—honest assessment and deliberative practice—could easily be considered two sides of the same coin. Assessment reveals a gap. Disciplined practice closes the gap and helps an individual break away toward the goal.

However, experts remind us that deliberative practice is more than hard work. For example, shoveling snow is hard work but it is not an activity that typically refines mind and body toward mastery of an advantageous skill. It is useful work, but
“learning to shovel snow more effectively” is probably not on anyone’s bucket list.

People are more interested in skills that advance a career or enhance leisure time. And whether the goal involves public speaking, sales competency, financial acuity, cooking, or parenting, research on the topic is available…. and a series of disciplines can be practiced for success.

For centuries, we have been told that personal success was about talent and genetics. However, brain scans now reveal that when we carefully practice specific skills over and over again, certain areas of the brain grow larger, more neuron connections are formed, and the myelin sheath increases the speed of signals along the nerve pathways. Matthew Syed, author of Bounce, claims that “over time, through practice, we can utterly transform the people that we are.”

Though major transformations may unfold slowly, disciplined practice doesn’t go unnoticed for long. The results begin to surface in both subtle and gratifying ways, bringing encouragement to set new goals and break new boundaries.

The nice thing about practice is that it is something we can schedule and hold onto. We don’t have to wait until inspiration strikes. Whatever our desirable skills, we can study what specific practices would be most helpful at every stage and then build a consistent schedule around those practices.

Research continues to show that the 10,000 hour rule holds true. It takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice over a number of years to be world class at any task. So the leap from good to great seems to involve teaching ourselves to practice carefully and then patiently falling in love with slow steady progress.