Radical Improvement

I’ve recently finished a book called Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. He writes about the body of research into what makes people outstanding performers.

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I found that the content gave me a lot to think about, both about parenting and my own performance. Colvin discusses the fact that the earlier we start, the better, since it takes approximately ten years of deliberate practice to master something. He uses the example of Tiger Woods’ father coaching him golf from 18 months old.

Colvin mentions that not all masters were self-driven to start with. Their parents nagged and hassled them to practice. As a parent I’m not keen on pushing so hard that they start to hate me and the activity. I’d prefer to allow my children a balanced childhood with exposure to many activities. I’ll be there to facilitate and support but it’s up to them how much they want to push themselves.

In terms of my own performance I’ve been thinking about the other book I just finished: Rising Strong by Brené Brown. It’s about the process of picking yourself up after a fall. The moment I admitted that I could not make my business profitable, I experienced a lot of emotions. I felt sadness and disappointment but mostly I felt like a failure. It has taken me more than a year to process what happened. I’m glad to say that I’m on the other side of that fall, but at times it made me fearful of my next move.

I feel that I really had no option but to change career paths on getting sick because the stress of the business was the underlying cause of the illness. So that was a no-brainer. But to launch a new career and find a new trade takes a lot of work and energy, and fatigue has been my biggest symptom. In reading Colvin’s book, I was concerned that it’s too late and that I’m too old  and laden with obligations to become world class at anything. But I’ve chosen to follow my passion and do the writing because it’s what I enjoy. Writing adds to my life and I want to live a rich life. Being world class is optional.

Thankfully my latest test results show great progress, so much so that my doctor used the words ‘radical improvement’. He seems quite confused by the change in my condition but I know that I have given it my all. I left the stressful workplace, I get a lot of rest, I take homeopathic medication to assist my recovery and most importantly, I’ve dealt with the emotional issues underlying everything. I’ve done so much work on me, my past, my emotions and my body. I don’t believe that it’s enough to just take the drugs and leave the root cause unchanged. I believe in taking ownership of my health and my body and doing whatever I can to get well.

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So as I stand now, I’m able to work seven to eight hours a day, I’m loving my life and I can actually say I experience joy on a regular basis. I still have some recovery to go but I think I can launch into my new path head on. I think I got here by applying  myself to my recovery, kind of like a project. I know that some of my strengths are around discipline and focus. I’ve had to relax a bit in order to recover but I have applied the best of those strengths into my recovery process and I’m pleased with the outcome.

And the timing for this radical improvement is about right. My book had a minor set-back and it was one of those learning experiences that I expected. But this hiccup will make the book so much better and I’d be much happier sanctioning something really good than something just OK. I have learnt a tremendous amount about publishing and it has been a really positive experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard. But as Geoff Colvin writes, there is nothing that stands in the way of us all becoming masters in our field, but hard work.

So I’m heading into a new phase of my life. I’m becoming a writer and I’m looking for opportunities for public speaking in order to spread the message of my book. And I can’t wait for the next opportunities to start emerging. I greet them with enthusiasm and excitement, so far removed from how I’ve felt for years. I can honestly say that this illness has come as a great blessing in order for me to be on the path towards my destiny.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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