Life, Transformation

Endurance #Day 4

A Rolling Stone...Gathers Momentum (3)

Being a long distance runner I love endurance, which is defined as follows

The capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.

The prime objective of training (esp. marathon) is to build endurance and typically starts 16 weeks (roughly 3 months) prior to the actual run. If strictly followed, the ordeal takes the subject to the limit of his physical self. First few weeks, the first time runner may find himself walking like a zombie in his work day, with all parts of his body aching. It is critical that one doesn’t give up during these testing times, because this would not just limit the physical built up, but more importantly, the mental toughness. During this 16 week ordeal, the runner craves for just one ambition, crossing the finish line. The high that you get by achieving this feat is unparalleled. Once you cross the finish line, chances are likely that you would say, “It was tough, but I made it. And I would do it again!”.

The second time you do it, it is much easier. The problem is that now you would aim for a much bigger challenge.

I’ve read Ms Duckworth’s book “Grit” definitely more than one time and have intensions of reading it several times again. It is one of the most well researched books and simplifies the definition of success and breaks the common norms.

She says,

Focus on talent distracts us  from something that is at least as important, and that is EFFORT. Effort counts twice. The most dazzling human achievement are in fact the aggregate of countless individual elements, each of which is ordinary.

Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills, or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into a habit.

Success lies in enduring the ordinary and the mundane, repeated over and over again, till it assumes the shape of flawlessness. Whether one would like to use the statistics of 10,000 hours or not, the celebration of human spirit lies in the celebration of these ordinary acts, which done again and again, becomes a part of us as a habit. And what you would see from outside is a pure symphony, an act of brilliance.

And to understand this is not rocket science. Simply put,


Therefore, a sales man making more calls is more likely to make a sale.

Therefore, a manager putting more hours at work is more likely to achieve the goal.

Therefore, an athlete putting is more hours of practice is more likely to win the race.

Consistency of effort over the long run is better predictor of success.

“The separation of talent and skill.”, Will Smith, the celebrated actor points out, “Is one of the most common misunderstood concept for people, who are trying to excel, who have dreams and who want to do things. Talent you naturally have. Skill is developed by hours and hours and hours of beating your craft.”

Most of us are enthusiastic (read passionate), but only few of us have the endurance to take it really far and do things better than they have been done before. Therefore, to do anything well, you will have to stretch yourself, and do it over and over again, so that it becomes you, your habit and second nature.

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Day 4 has come along fine, though still the night audit to be done. The goodness is hinging on complete the chores for holiday shopping and making everyone happy in the house. There are 2 weeks to go for Priya and Dhriti to fly to HongKong to meet our latest family member, Raina and then to Gurgaon to unite with the rest of the family. I would be joining them later in July

I hope not to miss them too much by working more, which is much needed for the new initiative. The holiday period will be the test for the 66 day ordeal.

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Life, Personal Development, Transformation

Deliberate Practice


Great advertisements make us reflect and leave a lasting impact. For many years, I believed 99% Perspiration and 1% inspiration was originally crafted by a talcum powder brand.

The ad was inspiring, Mr. Edison is more real.

Thomas Alva Edison coined this unforgettable phrase: “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. His life has been nothing less than inspiration for many. Mr. Edison has 1093 patents to his name and his creations laid foundations for a modern world.

Mr. Edison is right, genius isn’t special. Genius term is overused, more often for a God-like status and therefore such glorification becomes beyond human reach. In other context, genius is born and hence few are gifted and therefore cannot be acquired. We are comforted by the fact that “Geniuses” are born and not made.

Mr. Malcolm Gladwell’ Book Outlier proposes “10,000 Hours” rule for an expert. This is minimum time for you to acquire skill. Another book “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, is another fascinating description of practice and perseverance, corroborates and extends Mr. Gladwell’s proposition. According to Ms Duckworth, “Grittier people typically stick with their commitment longer than others, and simply spent more time on task”.

She further states:

It is persistent desire to do better. It is opposite of being complacent. But it is positive state of mind, not a negative one. It’s not looking back with dissatisfaction. It’s looking forward and wanting to grow”

Genius and talent is overrated. Practice is tough, single-minded devotion to one goal is difficult.

Ashoke clocked his best time 3.23 hours in marathon last year, which was after 6 years of deliberate practice. In his first marathon, Ashoke limped back to the finish line. His 6 years of practice was towards one goal, to better the time and qualify for Boston, which I’m very confident, he will do so this year. In his pursuit to achieve his goal, Ashoke logged many hours of deliberate practice. Therefore it is not necessary that a 10,000 hours investment will make you an expert. Deliberate practice will. The purpose of the time defines the goal.

My previous organisation, would conduct a minimum of 100 experiments (A/B tests) per week with a fixed objective to improve the customer experience. This differentiated us from the competition.

Jiro, the Michelin Star Chef, has his apprentice marinate tuna till the apprentice graduates to the next level.

Experts spend thousands and thousands of hours in deliberate practice. Ms. Duckworth further qualifies how expert practice:

“First, they stretch a goal, zeroing in on just one narrow aspect of their overall performance. Rather than focus on what they already do well, experts strive to improve specific weakness. they intentionally seek out challenges they cannot meet.”

So, what we end of witnessing is a masterpiece which is equated to genius and wow. What we don’t see is the infinite aggregate of small packets of efforts put in, ordinary and commonplace through deliberate practice to shape the outcome.

High performance is small mundanes put together.

Here are my two suggestion for making the deliberate practice a habit:

  1. Have a daily ritual, which you stick with everyday (your goal in perspective)
  2. Challenge a specific weakness everyday (what is taking you away from your goal)

It is guaranteed to be bumpy ride, but at the end of it you would say “I LOVED It!” and won’t regret even a bit of it.