“Talent is Overrated – Unexpected Truths of Great Performance”

What if everything you know about raw talent, hard work, and great performance is wrong? Scientific research on great performance shows that what most of us believe is off-base – which means we’ll never perform as well as we could. Geoff Colvin, author of the groundbreaking international bestseller Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else, explains the findings and relates them to real life in real organizations.

In this engaging, entertaining talk, he shows how most organizations value the wrong things – how passion, honesty, and learning are more valuable than what people generally believe are the sources of great performance. For example, while many great performers seem to work very hard, simple hard work isn’t enough. And though top performers often seem smart, high intelligence and memory aren’t the key either. Most important, the factor that most people deeply believe is the real secret, a mysterious natural gift, isn’t the explanation. Decades of scientific research show that great performance in any field results from highly specific behaviors that every person and organization can adopt.

The critical behaviors constitute what researchers call “deliberate practice.” It isn’t quite what most people think of as practice, and getting it right is crucial. But it isn’t complicated, and Colvin explains exactly how it works, illustrating his points with examples from real people and real organizations. The world’s great performers, in business, sports, music, medicine, or any other realm, all engage in these basic behaviors. Remarkably, there seems to be no limit to the performance that can be achieved by continuing deliberate practice. It’s just as effective with groups as with individuals. It improves performance not only in particular skills but also in broad, high-level abilities, such as strategizing and innovating. The result is that those who apply these key principles gain a tremendous advantage.

No one says the path to great performance is easy. But the liberating message from the research is that it isn’t reserved for a pre-ordained few. On the contrary, it’s available to everyone – including you and your organization.

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