The subtitle for this book is “What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else”. Throughout the book, it challenges the popular “wisdom” that the super-talented are born that way. While the book was initially geared towards business, it has many applications.
The book, written by Geoff Colvin, uses examples in sports, chess, music, and business to explain that the primary influence on world class performance is not innate talent or merely time spent doing the activity that makes you great — it is a simple strategy that few are strong enough implement at a world-class level: dedicated practice. The book uses the example of Jerry Rice’s legendary six-day-per-week off-season workouts that people would ask for the details of but that trainers would never release “out of fear that people would hurt themselves trying to duplicate it”. It also uses examples of Mozart and Tiger Woods, who under the instruction of their well-qualified fathers, rose to the highest levels of their field at an extra-ordinarily young age due to an amazing amount of dedicated practice.
The super-talented are not actually super-human, but through dedicated and difficult practice, their bodies and minds are able to perform at a level that seems unattainable to the rest of us. What this book shows us is that these skills are not unattainable, but they come at an exceptionally high price. The book calls out specifically one characteristic of dedicated practice; it’s not fun.
For you, in your current workout plan, you may not want to be world class but you probably want to improve at something. This book shows us that to improve rapidly at something, we will need to sacrifice and we will need to be dedicated. To train you body, you need to tax your body, and it will be uncomfortable.
The book is an interesting and motivating read, and it expands quite a bit on what I have briefly explained here. (Don’t worry, I have NOT spoiled the book.) I have always found world class performance interesting, and the curtains our rarely pulled back for us to see how it is achieved. This book is a good addition to the library of any achiever.