Monday, 22 June 2015

The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get

A friend of mine, Kenn Butler (2015), reposted a story originally told by Ange Fonce (2014), about a 'gifted' person who travelled the world doing what they loved.

This person practices daily, saying "I always start the day with two hours of practice & do three hours in the evening. If I didn't I would be hopeless!" (Fonce, 2014) The talent that others see is down to years of hard work and dedication. The 'gifted' person has made their own gift.

As Ange says "natural talent counts for little unless it is supercharged by self-discipline" and "Self-discipline can, to some extent, overcome lack of natural talent" (2014).

We can be sucked into what Ange calls the "myth of easy success", were we see the success, but don't see the thousands of hours that successful people put into their training, their research, their drills, their reviewing, being coached, being observant, and being driven to hone their professional skills (2014).

I think that what gets these people into the 'gifted' category is the ability to strategise, control and direct their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They can wrestle with their own limiting mental models and find a way to turn off that negative inner voice, and keep working on limitations until they can get past them. They build their confidence in their own abilities by risking and succeeding, or risking and failing - and then working out why they failed and risking again.

Ange (2014) suggests there are seven tactics to becoming successful:
  1. Don't wait to 'feel like it'. Self-discipline is hard, don't expect ease. Set a routine to practice and stick to it, even when you don't feel like it
  2. Finish what you start (as a point of honour). Ange suggests that we say to ourselves that "Today is not over until I have done everything" for everything that is on today's agenda; that we can literally, not go to bed until what we set out to do is complete.
  3. No excuses. Be scrupulously honest with yourself. Say "I am not going to go for the run now because I am too soft and lazy". You might find that honesty is harder to take than doing the thing you are trying to avoid.
  4. Make self-discipline of your scheduled time "non-negotiable". At the scheduled time, start. At the end of the scheduled time, stop. Start again, if you are on a roll, in your scheduled free time. When you procrastinate, in Ange's words, you "start to 'leak' motivation".
  5. Create deadlines. Even if there aren't any 'real' due dates, create some so you get the work done. Use your deadlines as non-negotiable time. Do jobs on the clock to help keep you focused. Just like any training, alternate sprints and endurance work, drills and strategy. 
  6. Avoid negative people. Keep working at your own goals and don't get derailed by others. As Ange says, "Seek the advice of experts by all means and learn from the best, and never accept negativity from people who have not themselves achieved what it is you are set upon achieving".
  7. Don't get hijacked by trivia. Don't let your inner two year old rule the show by distracting you with small things that can be ticked off as complete instead of doing the real work, like answering email, playing computer games or polishing a job that is already complete. Focus on the real work first, then do the trivia when the the real work is done. The lure of it will disappear like morning mist.

Good tactics.


The title of this article is based on a quote from Gary Player "It's a funny thing; the more I practice, the luckier I get" (Yocom, 2002).

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