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Expanding on a landmark cover story in Fortune, a top journalist debunks the myths of exceptional performance.

One of the most popular Fortune articles in many years was a cover story called What It Takes to Be Great. Geoff Colvin offered new evidence that top performers in any field--from Tiger Woods and Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch--are not determined by their inborn talents. Greatness doesn't come from DNA but from practice and perseverance honed over decades.

And not just plain old hard work, like your grandmother might have advocated, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness.

Now Colvin has expanded his article with much more scientific background and real-world examples. He shows that the skills of business, negotiating deals, evaluating financial statements, and all the rest obey the principles that lead to greatness, so that anyone can get better at them with the right kind of effort. Even the hardest decisions and interactions can be systematically improved.

This new mind-set, combined with Colvin's practical advice, will change the way you think about your job and career and will inspire you to achieve more in all you do.

From the Hardcover edition.


Talent Is Overrated
Average rating
4.3 / 5
We can all be better
July 1st, 2013
The big take-away from Colvin's book is: great achievement is the result of deliberate practice, with what we might consider innate talent being secondary. As parent's, this idea could influence how we encourage our children and with what intensity we require them to practice in a given field. Adults, however, are not beyond hope of greatness with adequate focus and commitment to a chosen field. Colvin supports this idea through stories of great business leaders who, as he points put, showed no special promise early in their careers. The key seems to be in finding what interests you most -- what you are driven to learn more about -- and then doing everything you can to practice the necessary skills to be better at it.
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1 review
This book changed my thinking
December 25th, 2012
This book gives clear insight into how people learn, and the important of not just practice, but intentional practice. I learned three key things from is book that stick with me: 1. You are not born with it, it is learned. 2. Simply doing something is not the same as practicing it 3. It takes 10,000 hours of intentional practice to become an expert. This book changes the view that we are good at some things, and not good at others. We can be good at anything if we are willing to put the effort into practicing that activity.
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1 review

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