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Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

Geoff Colvin

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"Excellent."-The Wall Street Journal

Since its publication ten years ago, businesspeople, investors, doctors, parents, students, athletes, and musicians at every level have adopted the maxims of Talent Is Overrated to get better at what they're passionate about. Now this classic has been updated and revised with new research and takeaways to help anyone achieve even greater performance.

Why are certain people so incredibly great at what they do? Most of us think we know the answer-but we're almost always wrong. That's important, because if we're wrong on this crucial question, then we have zero chance of getting significantly better at anything we care about.
Happily, the real source of great performance is no longer a mystery. Bringing together extensive scientific research, bestselling author Geoff Colvin shows where we go wrong and what actually makes world-class performers so remarkable. It isn't specific, innate talent, nor is it plain old hard work. It's a very specific type of work that anyone can do-but most people don't.
What's more, the principles of great performance apply to virtually any activity that matters to you. Readers worldwide have been inspired by this book's liberating message: You don't need a one-in-a-million natural gift. Better performance, and maybe even world-class performance, is closer than you think.

"Provocative." -Time

"A profoundly important book." -Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

"What an exciting book!" -Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution

"I rejoice! What Geoff says comports totally with my own experiences in sports, law, and business." -Herb Kelleher, founder, Southwest Airlines

Geoff Colvin,
Fortune’s senior edi­tor at large, is one of America’s most respected journalists. He lectures widely and is the regular lead modera­tor for the Fortune Global Forum. A frequent television guest, Colvin also appears daily on the CBS Radio Net­work, reaching seven million listeners each week. He coanchored
Wall Street Week on PBS for three years. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 256
Altersempfehlung ab 18 Jahr(e)
Erscheinungsdatum 01.05.2010
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-59184-294-1
Verlag Penguin US
Maße (L/B/H) 21.8/14.1/2 cm
Gewicht 232 g


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  • Chapter One

    The Mystery

    Great performance is more valuable than ever- but where does it really come from?

    It is mid-1978, and we are inside the giant Procter & Gamble head- quarters in Cincinnati, looking into a cubicle shared by a pair of twenty-two-year-old men, fresh out of college. Their assignment is to help sell Duncan Hines brownie mix, but they spend a lot of their time just rewriting memos according to strict company rules. They are clearly smart: One has just graduated from Harvard, the other from Dartmouth. But that doesn't distinguish them from a slew of other new hires at P&G. What does distinguish them from many of the young go-getters the company takes on each year is that neither man is particularly filled with ambition. Neither has any kind of career plan or any specific career goals. Every afternoon they play waste-bin basketball with wadded-up memos. One of them later recalls, "We were voted the two guys probably least likely to succeed."

    These two young men are of interest to us now for only one reason: They are Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer, who before age fifty would become CEOs of the world's two most valuable corporations, General Electric and Microsoft. Contrary to what any reasonable person would have expected when they were new recruits, they reached the absolute apex of corporate achievement. The obvious question is how.

    Was it talent? If so, it was a strange kind of talent that hadn't revealed itself in the first twenty-two years of their lives. Was it brains? These two were sharp but had shown no evidence of being sharper than thousands of their classmates or colleagues. Was it mountains of hard work? Certainly not up to that point.

    And yet something carried them to the heights of the business world. Which leads to perhaps the most puzzling question, one that applies not just to Immelt and Ballmer but also to everyone in our lives and to ourselves: If that certain something turns out not to be any of the things we usually think of, then what is it?

    Look around you.

    Look at your friends, your relatives, your coworkers, the people you meet when you shop or go to a party. How do they spend their days? Most of them work. They all do many other things as well, playing sports, performing music, pursuing hobbies, doing public service. Now ask yourself honestly: How well do they do what they do?

    The most likely answer is that they do it fine. They do it well enough to keep doing it. At work they don't get fired and probably get promoted a number of times. They play sports or pursue their other interests well enough to enjoy them. But the odds are that few if any of the people around you are truly great at what they do-awesomely, amazingly, world-class excellent.

    Why-exactly why-aren't they? Why don't they manage businesses like Jack Welch or Andy Grove did, or play golf like Tiger Woods did, or play the violin like Jascha Heifetz did? After all, most of them are good, conscientious people, and they probably work diligently. Some of them have been at it for a very long time-twenty, thirty, forty years. Why isn't that enough to make them great performers? It clearly isn't. The hard truth is that virtually none of them has achieved greatness or come even close, and only a tiny few ever will.

    This is a mystery so commonplace that we scarcely notice it, yet it's critically important to the success or failure of our organizations, the causes we believe in, and our own lives. In some cases we can give plausible explanations, saying that we're less than terrific at hobbies and games because we don't take them all that seriously. But what about our work? We p