A Passion for Improvement

Please remember that “passion” is the Latin word for suffering.
If you choose to become great, you must be willing to suffer for your mastery.

Let’s continue with the work that it takes to develop mastery. By this time in the series I’m going to presuppose that you know your Innate Ability, or at least you know the vital nature of finding it. (reference mentor with James)

Until you find what you love and begin to develop it fully, you’ll never be fully engaged, inspired and alive.

If you haven’t found something to give your entire life for,
You’ll never truly live.

Several years ago I had dinner with the billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, along with Steve Wynn, owns most of Las Vegas.

Over the course of dinner I asked Sheldon, “If you were going to give someone advice about what it takes to be successful, what would it be?” He replied, “Find something you love, get really good at it, and work really hard.”

Isn’t it interesting that nearly all billionaires and mega-millionaires in the world are telling us to find something we love first and foremost?

Why aren’t we listening?

You can’t do anything just to make money. I don’t think any great business has been built on the premise of simply making some money. I think great businesses were built because someone had a passion for them and wanted to bring something to the world. 

~ Robert Herjavec

Bottom line… find your unique genius and become great at it. You always love what you’re good at doing. To pursue anything else is either romantic fantasy or selling out. Something to ponder.

So we began the discussion of 10,000 hours last week. This is the amount of time that research suggests is necessary to develop a level of mastery in your particular genius and craft.

That breaks down to approximately 2.7 hours per day over a ten year period. But not just any nearly 3 hours per day… far from it. Three hours of “deliberate and focused practice.” This is the practice completely focused upon improvement and growth. It’s in this focused improvement that the “immediate feedback” from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work becomes critical. (reference MGG9).

You see, while talent is present… it’s far overrated. In fact, there’s a considerable body of research that shows that those who are talented early in life, more often than not, have very poor performance as adults.

One study tracking Presidential Scholars found that few of those who were identified as exceptional in their teens went on to fame and fortune as adults.

This does not mean that talent is not present. It definitely is… this talent is your Innate Ability which we’ve discussed in this series, as well as in great length elsewhere (reference IAD series). But here are some sobering facts to consider:

  • In his sophomore year Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity team.
  • Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam into Zurich Polytechnic.
  • Immanuel Kant didn’t publish anything of significance until he was fifty years old.
  • Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman (considered one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century), never spoke a single word until after the age of 3 years old and had an IQ of 125. An above average IQ, but by no means exceptional.

So what determines their genius?

More importantly what determines yours?

Well this is the billion dollar question of mastery and genius now isn’t it?

I’ve already given you the answer if you’re listening and willing to accept it. Here are five quick things. (There are many more internal processes that are not the purpose of this treatise. But they are vitally important and will be discussed in my live event). (reference LULIVE)

  • Knowing exactly who you are and what your gifts are.
  • Committing fully and completely to develop those things to a level of mastery.
  • Time.
  • Perseverance.
  • And maybe most importantly… hard work!

And lots of it!

Masters it seems don’t just work harder than the masses, they don’t even work much harder… research proves that they actually work much, much harder!

In 2012, Kobe Bryant was selected to go to the Olympics as a member of Team USA. In preparation, Bryant started his conditioning work at 4:30am, continued to run and do sprints until 6am, lifted weights from 6am to 7am, and finally proceeded to make approximately 800 jump shots between 7am and 11am.

Only then was he ready to begin practicing for the day with Team USA. Now please understand that he was already Kobe Bryant! Not a beginner. Are you thinking?

Bryant proves that it’s not only consistent practice that brings mastery… its relentless practice!


Need I say more?

The problem I experience with most people I mentor is that they think they want something… but they really don’t want to pay the price which that something takes.

There’s always a price for the prize. Are you willing to pay it?

Most aren’t.

Let’s be completely clear. While talent is overrated, it is present in greatness. This is the critically important Innate Ability that I so frequently discuss. Yet let’s agree, talent alone will never be enough for mastery.

Even 10,000 hours will not produce a Kobe Bryant or a Yo Yo Ma. Remember, Kobe doesn’t play the violin and Ma doesn’t play basketball. They do their One Thing!

And they practice it relentlessly.

And neither one of them became who they are because they “wanted to make money!”

This is a game changer. In fact, it’s a total collective programming blow out! Are you thinking?

I can’t tell you how many personal messages I get, how many personal requests I get, and how many interview questions are asked, regarding “how to make money.”

The key to making money is to forget about making money!
Focus instead on finding your love and leveraging it in the service of others.

Unfortunately, I can count on one hand (or less) the amount of questions I get asked regarding how to become masterful and great! Sad. Really sad.

This cannot be overemphasized I promise you.

While 10,000 hours will not produce your mastery in-and-of-itself, it must be present. Only after you become completely clear on your Innate Ability.

Next, it’s not just any 10,000 hours as we’ve previously discussed. Because truth be told masters don’t keep track of their time. When you’re in flow there is no time. Timelessness and time dilation are common occurrences when you’re in flow and doing what you love.

Researchers are typically the only ones keeping track of masters’ time. Kobe Bryant has one objective when he’s at his game, and one objective only… execution and constant improvement.

Going back to Csikszentmihalyi’s work:

  • Bryant had a clear goal. 800 jump shots between 7 and 11 AM.
  • The goal was in alignment with his skillset and genius.
  • He had immediate feedback. Every single shot either went in the basket or it didn’t, allowing him to make immediate adjustments.

Are you getting this?

This obviously is not just about sports. It’s not about Bryant. It’s about you!

You see while hard work is present, it’s not just hard work either… it’s smart and measurable work.

Incremental gains change the world.

Click here to read more about Incremental Gains and how it can change the world.

Break your work and your practice into small bite-size pieces. If you’re a writer for instance, it’s better to write 3 great paragraphs, stop, check, and tweak them, than to attempt to write a whole chapter. This allows for constant feedback and adjustment.

Small things, done consistently, in strategic places create major impact.

And the journey continues…

Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic!

james arthur ray


Permission to re-post my personal articles is granted with acknowledgment of the author, James Arthur Ray and a link back to this website. Thanks and Enjoy!