Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
“Wow, that must be an intense email you’re in the middle of.” I was sitting on the couch and my husband Greg was watching me on my Blackberry. But I wasn’t on email, I was in the midst of a newly found addiction, the game of BrickBreaker. BrickBreaker is a simple, yet challenging game where you move a ball around the screen to break bricks. The version on my Blackberry has 34 “levels”. The highest I’ve made it so far is to the nineteenth level.
As I was entering my high score I had a realization: that high score came after a great deal of practice. I certainly hadn’t scored high the first few times I played the game. In fact, the high score came after a few hours of practicing and a fair amount of frustration. And even as I entered the high score, I found myself ready to get back in the game and play again and again. It was fun, and I was getting better—and I like to win.
The leadership learning from my BrickBreaker experience is not lost on me. Developing mastery in any area of our life requires practice, and the ideal is to be able to practice doing something we’re passionate about and where we have natural talent.
Daniel Levitin in This is Your Brain on Music talks about the theory of 10,000 hours:… ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is the equivalent to roughly three hours per day, or twenty hours per week, of practice over ten years. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people don’t seem to get anywhere when they practice, and why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
A discussion of mastery isn’t complete without talking about using our strengths to practice in arenas where we are passionate. Teaching is a passion for me, and one for which I’ve been blessed with some natural talent. In the Spring of 2008 I had the pleasure of teaching two MBA Leadership classes simultanesouly. In addition to the other work I was doing through Integrity Integrated Inc I spent one month teaching one class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-10 PM and the second class on the weekends (Friday nights from 6-9:30 and Saturdays from 8:30-3:30). In total there were 89 students which meant in addition to the hours in the classroom I was grading a large volume of reflective paper assignments.
Sound exhausting? Not for me. I can honestly say that at the end of the weekend, I was often as much, if not more, energized than when I started the week. I’m not sure where I stand relative to my 10,000 hours of teaching but I can say that I was operating solidly out of a passionate strength and that goes a long way towards personal mastery.
My MBA teaching experience meets all of the criteria for Strengths-based Activities, as defined in “Go Put your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham.
What does operating out of a strength feel like?
- When you do it, you feel EFFECTIVE.
- Before you do it, you actively LOOK FORWARD to it.
- While you are doing it, you feel INQUISITIVE and FOCUSED.
- After you’ve done it, you feel FULFILLED and AUTHENTIC.
I don’t plan to spend the necessary hours to develop mastery in Brickbreaker—which means I may never make it to the 34th level…but teaching, now that is a different story.
For more about mastery, success and working with strengths, I recommend all of the following books:
“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Galdwell
“Strengthfinders 2.0” by Tom Rath
“Strengths-Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
Posted in MBA Class, Passion, Strengths, Success | 5 Comments »
“It that REALLY possible?” Two different coaching sessions led to two very similar conversations. In the course of discussing a job change I replied this back to a client, “So, what I’m hearing is that you want to be in a job where you feel energized and the work truly feeds your soul.” The reply was a hesitant question, “Yes, but is that really possible?”
The second client is in the process of taking on a new leadership role in the organization. “For the first time in years, I am truly excited about the work I’m doing. I found myself wondering if it is really possible to love the work we’re doing AND get paid for it.”
Two people with the same question: “Is it really possible to find work that allows us to use feel energized while using our strengths?” My answer is an absolute YES, it is not only possible to be doing work that feeds our hearts and souls, but it’s what life is about.
My heart aches when I hear people talk about staying in jobs that are not fulfilling. Some might say that the tough economy makes for a difficult time to truly work in your passion. I say the opposite. Why not take these times to truly get clarity about what is important for you? What do you look forward to doing every day? Do you tap into your strengths every day at work?
Research by the Gallop Institute and Marcus Buckingham says that 51% of people say that they feel an emotional high at work “about once a week.” The key is identifying your strengths and putting them to work every day. Here are the four indicators that you’re working in the arena of your strengths:
When you do it, you feel effective.
Before you do it, you look forward to it.
While you do it, you feel inquisitive and focused.
After you’ve done it, you feel fulfilled authentic.
(The above is from “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham. For more about the strengths work, go to http://www.strengthsfinder.com )