Practice doesn't make perfect, but it comes fairly close

March 29, 2010

We are not all blessed with the brains, beauty, luck, and capital that we associate with highly successful business people or entrepreneurs. Although most new business ventures fail, a few prosper and grow rapidly. A new article from the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal demystifies this game of success, and shows that exceptional performance is not necessarily the direct result of special talent, experience, or sheer luck.

Instead, it derives from engaging in sustained, intense, and deliberate practice in a particular area of expertise, in order to improve performance and cognitive thinking levels. Lead author Dr. Robert A. Baron says, "The same principles that apply to starting a new venture, such as self-regulatory mechanisms, and delaying gratification for a more long-term goal, apply to the process of getting in shape athletically. Through a sustained, intense effort someone can build the strength of their body or their business."

The authors show that across many fields of expertise most people work only "hard enough" to achieve a level of performance that is deemed "acceptable" by themselves and others, with no further gains. Through the principle of deliberate practice most anyone, the authors claim, can rise above this plateau to true excellence.

Entrepreneurs can acquire new capacities that can assist them in starting or running a new venture, or allow them to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, such as a drop in the economy, or PR crisis. These capacities include an ability to zero in on the most important information in a given situation, and more easily access valuable information stored in the long-term memory, or by increasing the capacity of short-term . These factors also help secure a positive outcome: preparation, repetition, self-observation, , and continuous feedback on results. These efforts lead to a healthy self-efficacy, or an individual's confidence in their ability and what is known as mature intuition.

Fortunately, the authors point out, the enhanced cognitive capacities that contribute to expertise in one domain can transfer to another. Therefore, entrepreneurs who have acquired the capacity to perform at expert levels in sports, music, art, or science, can transfer these skills and capacities to their business goals. Baron explains, "Our study shows that most successes belong not to those who are gifted, experienced, or lucky—but rather to those who are willing to work hard, long, and diligently to attain it. It's not that talent, luck, or experience is irrelevant, but the impact of those things can be overshadowed by hard work."

Explore further: Superior entrepreneurial performance is not driven by technical knowledge

More information: "How entrepreneurs acquire the capacity to excel: insights from research on expert performance." Robert A. Baron; Rebecca A. Henry. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal ; Published Online: March 8, 2010, DOI:10.1002/sej.82

Related Stories

Avoiding social potholes on your career path

May 14, 2009

In today's financial crisis, networking know-how is a necessity for finding jobs and business opportunities. But a series of new studies by Dr. Yuval Kalish of the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration ...

Recommended for you

Evolution of cooperation through longer memory

April 19, 2017

When we make a decision about whether or not to cooperate with someone, we usually base our decision on past experiences—how has this person behaved in the past?—and on future reciprocity—will they return the favor?—and ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
How egalitarian and sweet!! We can all be successful if we just try hard and stick with it...

As a serial entrepreneur, I think there is quite a bit more to it then this article is touching on, but yeah, its a given that motivation and leveraging previous paths to success - is one part of what it takes to make it...
not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
It has been said inorder to master anything one must take instruction and then apply said instruction for 10,000 hours to consider it mastered.

The quality and depth of the instruction would be the variable here.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.