A few years ago a I realized that I had racked up a pretty extensive Amazon wish list of books to read. Sadly, I just kept adding to it without actually making a dent in the damn thing.
Shortly after I set a goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks. There was no real rhyme or reason to the madness. I just wanted to start chipping away at that wish and to start reading more in general.
If you’re interested in how you can read 52 books in 52 weeks you can check out my write up over at Life Hack. You can also have a look at all of the books that were included in the 52 in 52 challenge here.
Reading as been such a huge influence on my life. It’s created an educational experience that has provided an insane amount of knowledge, resources, and at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay at a traditional school.
I love books so much that I want the world to know. I just want to shout it from the rooftops!
Ever since that challenge starting a Limitless book club was always on my mind. A simple place where I could tell you about what I’m reading and you could do the same for me.
I don’t plan on writing about every book I read but just some of my favorites, those that have influenced my life, and ones that might be beneficial for you in your own development.
In the club I’ll be giving a quick overview of each book and how you can apply it to your life.
Feel free to reach out and let me know if you plan on reading any of the books, have already read them, or would like to recommend a few that you think would be enjoyable not only to me but to others in the L365 community.
Enough of my rambling. On with it!
TALENT IS OVERRATED
The scarcest resource is no longer money – It’s human ability.
The first book in the Limitless book club is Talent Is Overrated by Geoffery Colvin. The book dives into whether or not we’re born with talent, what talent is, and how you can bring out your own natural talents through deliberate practice.
Through his research Colvin tells us that out of the 20,000+ genes in the human body not one of them has been identified as particular traits, such as:
- Mozart didn’t have a special gene for playing the piano and composing music
- Michael Jordan wasn’t born with a special gene that shows he’d be one of the greatest basketball players of all time
- Michelangelo didn’t have a specific gene that would have identified him as a great artist
- No gene in Tolstoy that would have told us he would be one of the greatest writers of all time
- George Lucas doesn’t have a gene that says Star Wars would be boss.
While there are some limitations (mostly physical) such as height, weight, and vocal chords that might influence what you can excel at and what you might not be able to. Overall, there is no specific genetic predisposition that suggests you will be superbly talented at one specific thing.
So what are some of the things that pull talent out of us?
Babies are born pretty much alike, and that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, girl and girl, man and man, woman and woman, are steady application and mental effort.
Sorry Allen Inverson. Yup, I’m talking about practice!
Practice is hard… really hard sometimes. It’s exhausting, it’s demanding, it’s confusing, and often humbling.
You probably practice more than you think.
- You have to practice improving your nutrition
- You have to practice stepping up you fitness game
- You have to practice being a better father/mother
- You have to practice optimism
- You have to practice confidence
Life in and of its self is constant practice. And it bares repeating… Practice is hard. It takes consistency, resiliency, willpower, intrinsic motivation, and grit. None of which any of us are born with but all of which can be learned.
However, most of us are not willing to commit to the hard work that it takes. We want instant gratification and results right NOW. That’s one reason quick fixes, pills, fad diets, and get rich quick schemes do so well. We can’t resist the idea of getting to our end results as fast as possible.
WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITATIONS
The book mentions psychologist, anthropologist, inventor, geographer, basically a polymath – Francis Galton. Galton was certain that every single person is born with a certain limitations that they will never be able to get past.
However, there are far to many examples in the world today that show how practice, when done correctly can translate into increased performance, skill acquisition, and talent over time.
- Skydiving from space
- Diana Nyed at age 64 and on her fifth attempt swam 110 miles from Havana to Key West. If she paid attention to the first four attempts she would have quit because of her limitations.
- My buddy Joel is attempting to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 different continents to raise money to build 7 schools for Pencils of Promise.
Ordinary people like you and me can get better over time if we practice the right things consistently enough.
What areas of your life are you placing limitations on?
- Running a marathon
- Losing body fat
Find examples of others that have done what you hope to achieve. Use them as examples that you can do it to. Remember that none of them have anything specific that makes them more special than you. There’s no gene that gives them the talent to push past barriers and do great things!
Practice is demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally. Are you ready for it?
WHAT DO THE TALENTED DO THEN?
The best of the best didn’t start out that way. MJ didn’t pop out of the womb and dunk a basketball. Michael Phelps didn’t swim his way out of the birthing canal (insert your own joke here). They spent time working at their craft.
I’ll say it again.
They practiced deliberate practice.
Tim Ferriss addresses the importance practicing in all of his books; The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Chef. Mostly focusing on Prato’s principle or what is widely know as the 80/20 rule.
Author Scott Kaufman also discusses a similar philosophy in his book The First 20 Hours. You can read my write up of that book right here.
WHAT MAKES UNLEASHING YOUR TALENT SO TOUGH?
Learning to do anything new or trying to build new habits will require a lot of your attention. It’s going to be demanding work.
One of the biggest limiting factors to success is the ability to sustain consistent action towards your goals. It will test your patience as improvement begins to slow. Will you be willing to push on when that occurs?
What are some of the most enjoyable experiences for yourself? Sit and think about it for a minute – even write them down. Take your time, I’m not going anywhere.
Take a look at that list. I bet it’s filled with stuff that you’re pretty good at. In his book Colvin states that “doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable.” Doing things we suck at… well sucks. It’s not so enjoyable all the time.
SO HOW DO THE TOP PERFORMERS MAX OUT THEIR TALENT?
Well it starts up top with your noodle.
Beliefs: Colvin says that average performers believe errors are caused by factors outside of their control. Those at the top of their game or profession hold themselves responsible and believe that they are the ones that caused errors to occur.
This is so powerful. If you believe that mistakes are caused by things outside of your control, you’re essentially saying that there is nothing you can do about it. The best know they can get better and improve on those mistakes. They take time to learn about what went wrong and make adjustments based on what they’ve learned.
Specific and small: The best don’t try to tackle everything at once. They dial in on one or two specific aspects and hone those until they’re nearly perfect. Once this occurs then they move on to something else to work on.
In the Limitless365 Fitness Program this is something that is emphasized. Instead of trying to completely overhaul your diet, which can feel overwhelming; focusing instead on one specific healthy nutrition habit, mastering it, practicing consistency with it, and once that occurs then moving on to another.
Me versus me: The best of the best are not concerned with keeping up with the joneses. Ain’t no body got time for that! The best judge themselves against themselves. They assess how they stack up now versus yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, maybe even longer.
They’re not concerned with Jimmy’s mile time, how much weight Don lifted, the 10 pounds Emily lost this month.
Nope, none of that. They’re only concerned with whether or not they’re improving based on where they were before.
Which brings me to my next point…
They get feedback: How do you know what’s working and what’s not? You have to keep track or get feedback. This might involve hoping on the scale, taking body measurements, doing a body fat test, recoding your workouts (reps, weights, times), logging competition scores, or asking for feedback form someone else like a coach, mentor, or someone else whose opinion you trust and respect.
Focus on behaviors: The best know what outcome they want to achieve but focus on the behaviors that will get them there.
- preparing healthy meals consistently
- scheduling time in your day to workout even if it’s only 10 minutes
- Working on a side hustle over the weekend
They sometimes look to themselves for feedback. In the book Colvin gives you an example of runners counting breathes and strides as a way to maintain or improve ratios for a race.
Ain’t no thing to fail: The best are not afraid to fail. They understand that “things don’t get easier as you distance yourself from a problem.” Growth happens in the eye of the storm, through failures, experiences, and careful assessment of what they can do better next time.
So slipped up on your diet over the weekend at a friends party? Eat before you go next time, bring healthy snacks with you, ask that there be some healthy options available, or practice Intermittent Fasting.
They embrace the suck: The best spend time working on what they suck at not what they’re already good at. The book gives an example of a specific study involving figure skaters. The study showed that sub-élite skaters spend the majority of their time on jumps they’re already good at where as elite figure skaters are working on jumps that they struggle with.
Help please: The most talented have mentors, teachers, other eyes to help them see what they might not be seeing.
Play back and time: The talented spend a lot of time honing their craft. Colvin goes on to give specific examples in the book of athletes, musicians, artists, and successful business people. Noting that 4 to 5 hours per day of work on a specific talent or goal is the upper limit with those hours being broken up into 60 to 90 minutes sessions.
Most of us might not have 4-5 hours per day to dedicate. That’s ok. Build momentum for self by dedicating the time you do have. Remember, if you really want something bad enough you’re going to have to CREATE time for it.
They have a great support system: Whether it was parents that were involved in their specific talent (maybe even talented in it themselves) or having a significant other that supported their pursuits.
Is your current circle of relationships supporting you? Have you asked for their support?
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
I hope that you find this little outline of Talent Is Overrated to be useful. There are some terrific examples from some of the most talented individuals on the plant in the book. From elite athletes to extremely successful business men and women.
A big take away from this book that I would like for you to understand is that no matter your what your goals, whatever you want to accomplish, your current skill level, knowledge, or talent – It’s going to take work.
It doesn’t matter who you are. You are going to have to dig deep, practice consistently, be willing to mess up, and make adjustments based on those mistakes.
You have the Talent.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
- Choose one of the ideas from the section above. How can you apply it towards one of your own goals? Now go do it!
- Have any of you read this book?
- Do you plan on checking it out?
- Any recommendations for the Limitless book club?
- Any ideas for making these book posts better and more helpful for you as a reader?
- Comment below
Photo: Books – Photo: Talent Is Overrated – Photo: Bungee Jump