Have you witnessed a maestro performing his craft? On a stage, on TV, in a movie, a corporate presentation, or simply in a one-on-one conversation.
I consider myself lucky in that I always get to bump into maestros – sheer magicians who display their genius level performance when they are called.
I have witnessed these magicians speak from stage, pouring their genius into a dry and dreary topic. I have seen them bring on sheer magic while explaining their position on a matter, trying to persuade others. Whether its creating and delivering a powerpoint presentation, a report, engaging patients in the clinic or taking their child out for an ice-cream, genius-level performers leave us feeling awe-struck.
In the work-domain, I have observed a few common threads that decide the difference between genius-level performers and the ho-hums. Here they are:
- Deep awareness of one’s DNA (strengths and abilities). This is called meta-cognition.
I love the concept of meta-cognition. Turns out there’s a lot of research to defend its benefits. I learnt about it in “Search inside Yourself”.
It matters everywhere. It’s the rare-air stuff. It’s what the mystics chase. Now, most of us may not take off to the Himalayas in search of the Self, nevertheless, meta-cognition could elevate your game totally in your business or career.
- Commitment to learning, refinement and improvement.
Get curious – learn – apply- measure – tweak – learn again – improve. Rinse. Repeat.
That’s the shortest lesson on improvement I learnt. Applied by high performers in sports, business and life. Have seen it in excelling hospitals in my work as an Improvement Specialist. Trying to apply it in my own life as well.
- Deliberate practice.
Anders Ericsson and Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hour rule for genius performance – to become a master at anything requires those many hours of consistent practice. The key, of course is intentional practice, and the right kind of practice. For further how-to, refer to #2.
- Persistence and long time-perspective.
Legendary cellist Pablo Casals was once asked why he continued to practice on the cello even at the ripe age of 93. His answer: I believe I am making progress. Talk about persistence!
Also, having a long-time perspective really separates the masters from the fakers. What does a long-time perspective mean? The belief that time is the secret ingredient in the recipe of enduring accomplishments. No get-rich-quick schemes allowed here.
- 3-D view of one’s craft: going about it broadly, deeply and with a long-term view.
I guess maestros really know their craft like the back of their hand. They take the painful route of going into the (sometimes boring) details of their craft. They know well every core as well as accessory aspect of their work.
And they know they are in it for the long haul.
- Presence: complete engagement while in action (with unrelenting focus)
Maestros really do bring their whole person to the show – their mind, body and soul, every bit is in a full state of flow when they are engaged in their craft. They are completely in the moment. Their focus is unwavering. They lose track of time.
They are present.
- Embracing discomfort and pain in order to grow
They understand that pain is an integral part of growth. They don’t necessarily enjoy the discomfort. But the sheer joy of living inside your craft overrides any inconvenient bits in the process (including pain and discomfort)
- Ritualizing and routinizing
Most legendary authors, musicians, architects, painters, actors, directors as well as political leaders are creatures of predictable and often unglamorous routines and rituals. These 2 Rs help them stick to their mission. Many of the surprising and quirky rituals of famous legends are chronicled in Mason Currey’s Daily rituals. Fascinating study of the seemingly boring habit of following the same practices consistently day in and day out to further their craft!
- Action-renewal-action cycle
Maestros work in cycles. They have their peak performance time, and then they have a period of lull. And they know that rest phase is in fact what makes their action phase that much more effective. They take their renewal after work very seriously. Can’t afford not to.
- Peak conditioning of one’s core resources (body and mind)
Some walk long miles. Some play for hours. Some read. Some write. Some meditate. Some swim.
The idea, it seems, is to protect the instruments of their work – their body and mind. No resources, no output. No health, no craft.
In conclusion – The key is intentionality!