“If only we were more like ….”

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Sometimes we look at a friend or work colleague and just wish that we were more like Jane or Jon. After all Jane seems to be so much more productive and somehow she just devours work without being distracted. Then again Jon is well respected throughout the organisation and whenever he says anything, people tend to listen. This then creates a desire to gain a new skill and thereby making you a more rounded person. Alternatively, at times we focus on our weaknesses because if we crack those than surely we will be more like …

Of course there is nothing wrong with spotting the skills or personality traits of others. Nothing wrong by wanted to be more like them either. However this does tend to focus on the negative, so what about the skill you have? What are you good at? Should this not lead us to question how we can perfect not our weakness but our strength.

Not long ago I watched the documentary film called Jiro Dreams of Sushi as directed by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro Ono, a 85 year old sushi master and owner of a Michelin three star restaurant. The restaurant seats 10, has a 8-10 week reservation list and his tasting menu costs around $240. What is interesting is his drive and determination to perfect his craft. It appears even at his age, he is still striving for that perfection. He notes little things such as how he will serve the food differently depending on whether the customer is right or left handed. What really struck me though were the apprentices. They will be taught a particular course and then they have to practice making it. Only when it is of the required quality will they be able to serve it to the customer, and we are not talking about practising for a week but rather months. That desire for perfection is instilled in them from the start.

It really got me thinking about my own skills and how we should strive to perfect those. So how do we do that? Well first let’s make a list of our top 5 skills in which we excel. Perhaps we could ask others what skill they recognise in us.

Next, it must be the 10,000 hours of practice after all practice makes perfect, right? Well maybe but it is not the quantity but rather the quality that counts. Drake Baer wrote an article on FastCompany.com that list how we should go about perfecting that skill:

  • Be deliberate about your practice

This is all about pushing yourself and your boundaries. Your approach and execution is deliberate and structured, while tracking progress all the way through.

  • Feedback loop

Reach out to others – a friend, colleague, mentor or family member. Tell them what you are trying to achieve so that you can be accountable to them. Ask them for continues feedback on your progress and where you may need to focus next. (Ensure you listen to them even if the feedback is not as positive as you might have hoped)

  • You’re rarely coasting

Your efforts should stretch you. You will need to find and understand the boundaries and limits of your skill and then reach beyond them. This will not always be easy but if it was then you would be coasting.

  • You get rest

We are in it for the long haul and so this high level of activity cannot be sustained for long duration. We therefore also need to schedule in rest and let our body and mind recover.

The original article can be found here

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