We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence , then, is not an act, but a habit.

 – Aristotle.

What are the mechanisms of excellence, really? There is no shortage of good, even excellent ideas. Some say talent, others say it’s all about the skills. Again, we fall into a race of opposing forces and the question of who’s actually more right … Nature or nurture?

But here’s a thought. Why does it have to matter so much at all? You’re going to do what you’re going do, irrespective of if you’ve got talent or skills.  Now they say Lionel Messi – (the soccer player in Barcelona, for those of you don’t know, yes i am a bit surprised), has talent. He probably does, he seems to get the ball where it’s supposed to go, most of the time. But would that happen, without the hours of practice between the games? 

So claiming the obvious, talent or no talent, some effort has to be invested in practice. The amount of practice, (but not only that, as i will touch upon further along), will determine where the ball goes and if it rolls off as intended.  

So might talent be, just, loveactually (not intended to be funny). Loving your thing, will naturally invite talent. But loving your thing alone won’t cut it. You have to love your thing enough to create an intention around it. 

So i love to sing. It seems, i just might have some talent. But i don’t love to sign to the extent that i am willing to put in all those hours required to become a professional singer. I can’t argue i will be the next BeyoncĂ© just by loving to sing. 

So nurture. We seriously need to practice. However, not just any kind of practice. We need to know what skills are required for the task at hand. What is required of us to become really good, or even excellent at our talent? 

One thing that goes for all of us human beings, is that we are all communicators and storytellers. We could even say, it’s a talent we all have, nature has endowed us with it. But some seem to have more of it than others. No. So you see, that’s not actually correct. Again, a storyteller, who also really loves to tell stories, will naturally become good at it, because she does it often, intentionally and attentively.

As we communicate, we learn the cues of communication. In relationship we learn what stories capture attention, what ticks people off and what makes them cry. And sometimes, if we’re really into it, we learn why this happens. Becoming a storyteller, a speaker like Malcom Gladwell, Oprah Winfrey, or David JP Phillips, that requires putting in the hours, and the days, months and years, learning the skills that create their greatness. Their greatness lies in that we love to hear them speak, we listen to every word. They make us feel, something. And we want more of it. 

This is what intentional practice may evolve into. Excellence. Do a thing often, do it repeatedly, know how to tweak the results, feel the effect, and do it again and again and again, while measuring your accomplishments, following your creative process. Along with loving it. And it, YOU, will grow. 

So let me treat you to an inspiring talk by Mr. Phillips, 110 technics of communication. Here he is on the TEDx stage, offering a handful of technics for communication that can change minds and touch emotions. Enjoy, and feel free to share. Maybe you’ll even practice a skill or two (i especially recommend the Duchenne smile he talks about at the end).

Love// Alex

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