Exactly what does it require to become an expert in your specialized field? Is nature, or nurture? Exactly what does it take to achieve excellence like people such as Albert Einstein, Mozart, or Leonardo da Vinci? Success is within anybody’s reach, if they have persistence, discipline, and adhere to a few essential actions.
1. Discover your calling.
Most people know what they are best at. Frequently, they are dismissed from their passion by other people. It is important to trust yourself and map your own career path according to what is unique about yourself. Leonardo da Vinci did not become an artist on his own, however, he followed his curiosity about everything and eventually became an expert in subjects from anatomy to architecture.
2. Rather than competing in a saturated field, look for a niche that you can dominate.
Famous neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran used to be an agitated and disappointed professor of psychology. His passion became a job. But when he started the research of anomalous brain disorders and phantom limbs, he discovered the connection between the brain and the consciousness fascinates him even to this day. Discover your own niche, and excel in it.
3. Fight for what you believe in, do not let others dictate what you should do.
Mozart was a gifted child in the piano. His father tried to suppress his talent for music composition at his young age. It was until he totally rejected his father that he truly became a master of his craft. We are often tempted by the wrong things, be it approval, fame, or money.
4. Be passionate at the most basic level.
The little things that fascinated you as a child, was not just a passing fancy, it was a hint about what your calling is. Marie Curie wandered into her father’s lab and was instantly transfixed by his instruments.
5. Observe deeply, practice endlessly, and experiment rigorously.
You need to watch people, not impress them. By studying the ropes, you can excel. Our brains are wired to learn skills. By practicing something repeatedly, our neurons are called up to mirror and hardwire the new skill. That’s why you never really forget how to ride a bicycle. You won’t know if you’re an expert until you test your skill.
6. Cherish learning over money thereby you’re not enslaved by people’s opinion.
Rather than a more financial rewarding job, Martha Graham accepted a lower paying teaching job which afford her time to practice and develop dance innovations that made her famous. Those highest-paying jobs lead you to pleasing others, instead of learning, training, and mentorship opportunities.
7. Be humble in order to really learn.
Daniel Everett, a talented linguist, failed to learn the Paraha language, which puzzled scientists for many years. The reason he failed was because he came at it as Christian missionary and a linguist, from a person of superiority. He did not master the language till he humbled and learned it as though he was a child. Having bias or feelings of superiority hinder your opportunities to really learn.
8. Engage in extreme training with discomfort.
Bill Bradley was fit for basketball only because of his height. He couldn’t jump and was sluggish. But he practiced hours and hours after school, he would put weights inside his shoes, and even went as far as taping cardboard to the base of his spectacles just so that he couldn’t see the ball when he was dribbling. Those were only the start of his intense regimen. Extreme training with discomfort can double the effectiveness of what’s easy.
9. Always do trial and error.
Paul Graham had always been fascinated by computer systems. He ultimately discovered that he mastered by dealing with problems, failing, and then trying again. The experience ultimately led to the conception of Ycombinator that offers business owners the assistance to accomplish what he did. Apprenticeships are less formal now. You need to modify your own training based on your own style of learning.
10. Soak up a master’s knowledge.
A right mentorship is the most effective way to learn because you concentrate on one outstanding source of knowledge rather than casting for many. This way, you can discover a skillful way of processing that takes others a lifetime to establish in the quickest time. However, your goal is to surpass them.
11. Pick a teacher who will challenge you intensely.
Carl Jung adored Freud as a leader in his field, however, was doubtful about some of his theories. Although they eventually split, Jung gained better understanding through Freud’s mentorship in areas where he disagreed, learned a lot, and honed his own concept and identity.
12. Soak up your teacher’s knowledge entirely, and then improvise it.
Alberto Guerrero had a brilliant piano student, Glenn Gould. Gould would use what Guerrero taught him and moved it in a completely different direction. Despite many years after Gould was out on his own since the age of 19, Guerrero could see the techniques he taught Gould, utterly absorbed, but totally altered by his genius. It can be intimidating to learn from someone accomplished. But if you can overcome this by learning everything, then you can go further by improving your knowledge.
13. Welcome criticism and acquiesce to hierarchy.
Ignaz Semmelweis was among the earliest pioneers in practicing antiseptic techniques, something which might have and has since saved countless of lives. It wasn’t fully adopted during his time due to the arrogant way he handled his superiors, and also his refusal to prove his concepts. He was abandoned at 47 years old and died penniless. Capitalize those in power, do not alienate them. Otherwise, it is just a waste of skills and intelligence.
14. Build on your own uniqueness.
Metal Sculpting was mainly a male dominated industry. Teresita Fernandez might have been considered a novelty, but she would not let other people define her. By building her personality on her art, she successfully won the MacArthur “Genius Fellowship”. Awareness of your own uniqueness enables you to become more effective in mastering your craft.
15. Tolerate fools, and put them to good use.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe invested his youth in a distinguished Duke’s court but found himself entrapped in a petty court culture. Instead of engaging, he turned their behavior into characters in his novels and plays. There are too many fools in this world. Do not engage or stoop to their level.
16. Think outside the box.
The brain has a natural tendency to classify things in simple categories. Creative minds will resist the use of this mental shorthand. Putting an effort to change perspective, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed Google by recognizing a minor flaw – bad search engines results that showed pages by how frequently something was mentioned. An anomaly led them into a more effective innovation.
17. Do not let impatience get the better of you.
John Coltrane used to imitate rather than innovate. But after many years of absorbing other people’s styles, he improvised the knowledge into something personal and unique. The greatest obstacle to creativity is impatience. Persevere and develop your authentic style.
18. Mechanical knowledge is important too.
When the world’s smartest engineers failed to build a flying machine, a simple insight of bicycle mechanics, that a flying machine had to have the ability to bank like a bicycle instead of moving in a straight line like a ship, helped the Wright brothers beat engineers who got stumped by the issue for many years. Mechanical intelligence, the focus on functionality, can be just as important and innovative as the abstract.
19. Avoid getting wrapped up in technical artistry.
Neurobotics leader Yoky Matsuoka had a task to build a lifelike robotic hand. It was a learning process to comprehend the human hand rather than solving mechanical puzzles for her. Relatively unimportant physiological information ended up being incredibly essential for function. Matsuoka exceeded those who had been engrossed in technical artistry for years. Technical lock can make people lose sight of bigger questions.
20. Integrate intuition with logic.
Immerse deeply in a specific field, study under a mentorship, and unleash creative ability to rapidly and intuitively react to any circumstance. Integrating that instinct with logic enables people to realize their greatest potential. Albert Einstein didn’t like experiments or how physics was taught. His greatest insights originated from somewhere else. His theory of basic relativity was partially inspired by thinking about images of trains, lights, and people. By choosing to steer away from traditional, experimental science, Einstein removed conventions that held him back, and did something that felt intuitive, seemed illogical, however was intensely rational.