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The ’10-year rule’ for becoming great

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Is Michael Jordan great because he was born with a natural talent for basketball? Unlikely, say researchers. As it turns out, we aren’t born with gifts that can propel us to fame. (If we were, Jordan probably wouldn’t have been cut from his high school basketball team.)

What makes someone great is a lot of hard work and a lot of demanding, painful practice. That’s good news for anyone who harbors a desire to be, say, a virtuoso piano player, like Condoleezza Rice, or a great public speaker.

You, too, can go from good to great by sticking to these two rules:
1. Engage in “deliberate practice.” Say you want to be a better public speaker. As you speak, focus on why you’re doing it the way you are. After you’re done, get feedback on your performance. Make changes. Do those steps regularly. Famous orator Winston Churchill is said to have practiced his speeches compulsively.

2. Stick with it for 10 years. Bobby Fischer, for example, became a chess grandmaster at age 16. But he had studied intensively for nine years beforehand.

— Adapted from “What it takes to be great,” Geoffrey Colvin, Fortune.

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