“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” ~James Bryce
If Mr. Bryce is correct, then I have been reading some very worthy books lately. Allow me to share a few thoughts……
In Talented Is Overrated; What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin presents compelling evidence to support his claim that innate ability, native intelligence and natural talent have very little long term significance in determining who will truly excel in any given field. He uses extensive data and multiple examples to show that it is hours (about 10,000 of them) of deliberate practice that cause greatness. Deliberate practice, i.e. practice that is specifically designed to improve performance, can be repeated a lot, has continuously available feedback, is highly demanding mentally, and that is NOT fun, leads to world class performance across the spectrum; in sports, music, business, entertainment, etc….
The good news about Colvin’s findings is that anyone can become great; we can all become world class performers in our chosen area. The bad news is that we have no excuse for mediocrity; we can all become world class performers in our chosen area.
What will I “carry away” from this book? A few things and several questions….
· I need to join a writer’s group or take a writing class so that my writing practice becomes deliberate
· I need to proactively work to build my memory skills; “I have a bad memory” is no excuse.
· How can I share these findings with my children? What can I share the empowering “I am capable of greatness” message with them? How do I motivate them to endure the difficulties of deliberate practice? Can I coerce them into practicing deliberately? Should I coerce them into practicing deliberately?
I have not finished the book yet but it is compelling me to action. Perhaps I will let you know how it turns out.
I am also reading another book, The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, authored by several prophets of God, also containing words directly from Christ himself. It teaches that race, color, gender, economic status, native intelligence, innate ability, and natural talent are not requisite to gain eternal life; we are all children of God and, as His children, are all heirs of exaltation if we will be choose to follow Him. The choice is often difficult and following the path can be demanding but the promises are sure.
This week I was particularly struck by the stories relating to the Sons of Helaman. Their parents covenanted with God NOT to use swords to defend themselves and their loved ones. They prostrated themselves before their enemies and allowed themselves to be slaughtered by the thousands rather than break the covenant they made with their God. (Alma 24, 27)
One generation later, the sons of these courageous people covenanted with God that they would “fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they would never give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage…..they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives…” (Alma 53:17, 56:47)
Parents and children made exactly opposites covenants with the same God….and both were blessed. Parents went “home” to their Maker, praising His name and confident of His approval and their sacrifices influenced thousands of their angry, rebellious countrymen to lay down their weapons of war and seek peace. Their children, young men by this time, courageously risked their lives in defense of their families and freedoms and they were miraculously protected, “…not one soul of them [Sons of Helaman] who did perish….now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army….And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith….” (Alma 57:25-26)
What will I “carry away” from this book? More things than I have time to write this morning (or this year, for that matter) however I will share a few things I learned from these passages and and several questions…..
· Trust God. Though the covenants made by the parents and children were opposite, the factor underlying the making of their covenants was the same. They trusted God and so should I. He will lead me to make the covenants that will bless my life.
· Stay close to God. In both situations, the people knew which course of action they should take because they sought God’s will in their lives. If I seek His will in my life, I will be similarly guided.
· How can I share these insights with my children? How can I share the “trust God” and “seek God” lessons with them? How do I build their faith to the point where they have the courage and conviction to seek God, to trust Him, and to “do what is right, let the consequence follow”?
I actually have read this book, several dozen times in fact, but I am not finished with it. It is still compelling me to action. Perhaps I will let you know how it turns out.
“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint.... What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” ~Henry David Thoreau
What I began by reading, I must finish by acting…….I have a lot of work to do!!!!!!!
P.S. “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” ~P.J. O'Rourke