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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Practice Made Perfect

A company, feeling it was time for a shake-up, hires a new CEO. This new boss is determined to rid the company of all slackers. On a tour of the facilities, the CEO notices a guy leaning on a wall. The room is full of workers and he thinks this is his chance to show everyone he means business!

The CEO walks up the guy and asks, “And how much money do you make a week?” Undaunted, the young fellow looks at him and replies, “I make $600 a week. Why?” The CEO then hands the guy $600 in cash and screams, “Here’s a week’s pay, now GET OUT and don’t come back!”

Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO looks around the room and asks, “Does anyone want to tell me what that slacker did here?” With a sheepish grin, one of the other workers mutters, “He was the pizza delivery guy.”

A few years ago I read a fascinating book by Malcolm Gladwell. It was titled Outliers: The Story of Success, it examined factors that contribute to success. In the book he defined an outlier as person who is exceptional and does not fit into the normal understanding of achievement.

The main idea throughout the book is the “10,000-hour rule”. The rule says that to reach expert status (at anything- hitting a baseball to running a business) you need 10,000 hours of study (which equates to roughly 5 years if you spend 40 hours per week on just the one skill you seek to master). The rule is based on the research of Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson.

Gladwell uses Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates as one example. As a teenager, Gates fed his programming addiction by sneaking out of his parents’ home after bedtime to use the University’s computer to code. Gates acquired his 10,000 hours at an early age.

HOLD ON: like our laughable CEO that hastily fired the pizza delivery guy, it seems Gladwell left out a big piece of the success equation. Anders Ericsson (yes the original researcher) explains that the true secret to success is “deliberate practice” where you are guided by a mentor or coach that takes you through “well-designed training.” In other words, as we learn new skills the feedback we get matters a great deal, not just the 10,000 hours as Gladwell stated in his book.

An example, if my son Cael wants to improve his baseball swing, hitting the ball off a tee with the wrong mechanics over and over isn’t going to improve his batting average and make him the strongest hitter in the state. This seems logical, after all how can he become better if he’s practicing the wrong thing?

But, when he has an expert batting coach who can identify what he’s doing wrong, who then gives him a plan of what he needs to concentrate on, and continues evaluating him, adjusting as necessary, then he can improve.

NOTE: An ancient proverb goes, “Better to spend one day with a master than 10,000 years of study.” If you are ready to bust down your roadblocks, awaken your business ideas and build or grow your current business …then mentoring from Tama County Economic Development might be for you. Call our office 641-484-3108 and we will help you identify where you can experience the most growth in the quickest way possible in 2014.


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