By Robin Sharma
#1 bestselling author of The Leader Who Had No Title
Today’s post is one of the most important I’ve ever written…
…because it speaks to the vast potential within you, how easy it is to betray it and then offers some extremely valuable moves you can make to ensure the world gets to experience it.
Albert Einstein once observed:
“Only those who devote themselves to a cause with their whole strength and soul can be true masters. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.”
If you’ve attended one of my live events or been a member of one of my online courses, then you already know this fundamental principle for world-class performance: becoming best in class is less about natural talent and more about what you do with what you’ve been given.
The most gifted tennis player doesn’t become the champion…the most focused, practiced and passionate one does.
The most innately talented violinist doesn’t become the virtuoso…the most dedicated and devoted one does.
The most brilliant entrepreneur doesn’t reap the fortune and change the course of history…the one with the most discipline, work ethic and grit does.
Yes, I know…
…this thinking is so counterintuitive to the way society has taught us to consider genius and exceptionalizm. We’re told that the Mozarts and Michelangeos, the Bachs and the Basquiats, the Eminems and the Jordans are cut from some divinely-blessed cloth.
And born into their breathtakingly great gifts.
But a growing body of research into exceptional performance (much of it led by Anders Ericsson who was first to report the now-famous “10,000 Hour Rule”) is confirming that concept of naturally gifted genius is pure myth…
And the reality?
…That those we admire–the awesome mathematicians and the fantastic chess players and the remarkable artists and the heroic business-builders–are just normal people who, early on, made a few uncommon choices and installed a few unusual habits. And in so doing, generated rare-air results.
In my popular online course The Robin Sharma Success System I go deep into exactly how to build your personal genius, unleash your truest power and walk you through the advanced steps that anyone can take to rise to the realm of “The Great Ones”. So in this post I wanted to focus on something a little different…
…the 6 Threats to World-Class Performance…
These are the 6 most common (and often unconscious) ways we sabotage our potential for genius-level results, block our greatness and diminish our opportunity to be one of the best in the world at what we do.
Let’s get right into them…
#1: The Threat of Disbelief.
Powerful idea: if you don’t believe that you have the potential to be one of the best there ever was at your chosen craft or skill, then you won’t do what it takes to get there.
In other words…
Your belief about your potential really does determine whether you express it—or let it slumber quietly within you as you coast through your life.
My respectful encouragement is that you take a cold, hard look at the facts: the superstars in sports, music, science, society and business truly were ordinary people. But they, sometimes because of a coach and often due to a parent, came to train their brains to believe (and then expect) that they could be epic performers…if they put in the work, made the sacrifices, maintained the focus and got better every day.
But if you’ve fallen into the mass hypnosis that the people we view as geniuses are genetically different from you so you have no shot at making history, then this belief alone will prevent you from rising to into the realm of awesome.
And so this disbelief in the availability of mastery to you is a threat…please fight it.
#2. The Threat of Undercapitalization.
I recently listened to a superb interview of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
In it, Buffett admitted he’s not the smartest person in the room. The “secret” to his extraordinary success in the capital markets comes down to the “Horsepower Versus Output” distinction.
He explained that “horsepower” is the talent we’re born with but “output” is how much of that reservoir we have the commitment, discipline and guts to realize.
The term for translating potential into results is “capitalization”, because if you are seriously committed to mastery you need to fully capitalize on all the potential you have.
One of the finest ways to ensure complete capitalization of your talent is to start your pursuit of becoming the best in the world at your chosen skill as early as possible (my “dream big, start small, begin now” mantra).
And then to get in the 10,000 hours that Anders Ericsson has discovered is the minimum viable amount of training needed before genius begins to present itself (“The 10,000 Hour Rule” I mentioned earlier; yes, recent writers have popularized it but Ericsson’s the man).
So…let’s get granular so we really really get you going…
That’s 2 hours and 44 minutes of daily practice at one thing for ten years…
And now I know you’re beginning to see that discipline, practice and extreme amounts of training are the “secrets” behind the illusion of “natural talent” and “innate genius.”
…The truth is that you just have to put in ridiculous amounts of time and effort to reach world-class performance.
You really can get there (and you disrespect your potential if you don’t). But most of us are just too distracted, too interested in easy, too affected by criticism and too invested in comfort to heed the call on our lives and do what’s needed to become iconic.
Sad. Don’t let that happen to you. Please.
#3. The Threat of Talent Circle Apathy.
Who you associate with dramatically influences the way you behave and how excellently you perform.
The science behind it involves concepts like “attitudinal contagion” (we subconsciously adopt the mindsets of the people we are closest to) and “goal-contagion” (we assume the same aspirations of the dominant members of our circle of influence).
If the people in your immediate network are aiming for best in world, up at 5 am to start their training, working with mentors who kickstart their mastery and practising from sunrise to sunset, then there’s a great chance you’ll be modelling that ethic.
On the other hand, if the people you’ve populated your life with spend their finest hours being busy being busy, gossiping, watching too much TV and playing too many video games, then your results will reflect those influences.
All geniuses and exceptional performers were parts of hubs of talent…
…kids in The Dominican Republic dream of playing baseball and spend most of their waking hours on the field. Their heroes are major league stars from their country who made it big. And they plan to be just like them.
…children in Brazil aspire to become celebrated soccer players while some Canadian youth regularly pass 10,000 hours on the ice by the time they’re fifteen. All their friends do the same.
…teenagers in Silicon Valley long to launch startups, go to workshops that teach them to code and spend sleepless nights iterating their craft. Everyone these kids know wants to be the next Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg.
Your circle of associations matter. And being apathetic and lazy about who you surround yourself with comes at a very real cost to your performance, success and impact on the world with it.
Definitely avoid this threat.
#4. The Threat of Complexity.
Picasso didn’t practice the piano. Jay-Z’s not spending his best hours becoming a chess master. And Stephen King definitely isn’t obsessed with joining the NBA.
All people who rise to genius have another thing in common: singularity of focus.
All masters are monomaniacally focused on their skill. And epic performance is much more about the things you have the discipline to say no to rather than the things you say yes to…
The point I’m suggesting to you is really this one…
…you can try to do many things but you’ll always play at mediocrity. Or you can commit to just one thing. And enter the ring of mastery.
So simplify. Subtract. Get great at saying diplomatic nos. Your potential demands nothing less.
#5. The Threat of Comfort.
Absolutely fascinating to me how many elite performers came from poverty. Seems that they pretty much knew that if they didn’t focus passionately and practice relentlessly they’d not only not live the life of their dreams, they’d likely have little food to eat.
That kind of condition fuels immense drive, unbeatable determination and an iron will to win. And that’s why comfort can be dangerous to greatness…
…Maya Angelou, the famous poet, leaves her home to work in a gritty motel room.
…one of my buddies–one of the bestselling authors on Earth–lived in a hostel for a full year to push himself to do his best work.
…even when Steve Jobs was a billionaire, he slept on a futon.
No matter how revered you become, you just can’t let comfort make you slow, sloppy and old.
To reach legendary levels of creativity, productivity and acumen, you want to keep pushing yourself like your life depends on it—because it does.
And the best way to expand your limits is to consistently push to the edges of them.
As the Spartan warriors said: the person who sweats more in practice bleeds less in war.
#6. The Threat of Infirmity.
Someone once taught me that health is the crown on the well person’s head that only the ill person can see.
It’s not common to link fitness with genius. But being in ultra-strong physical condition is mission-critical.
…how can you put in your ten years of practice if you are sick?
…how can you rebound when you fail if you have no energy?
…how can you do the study and invest in the learning if you lack stamina?
And getting into your best fitness isn’t really about getting the trophies, receiving the fame and basking in the accolades.
That’s all fine. But there’s something more important…
Being strong and healthy and radiant and dynamic allows you to be of use.
You see, when you live your potential and rise to genius, it’s not just you who wins…the world does as well.
We all get to be inspired by the greatness you model. We all feel we too are more than we thought we were. We all get to benefit from your artistry, accomplishments or inventions.
You become our hero. And each of us needs more of them.
As always, hope this all helps. All great wishes,
P.S. Get onto the priority access list for first chance at one of the limited memberships to The Robin Sharma Success System, my famous 21 day online personal transformation program
Talk soon. Bye.