Anders Ericsson recently passed. If, by chance, you are unfamiliar with the name, he was perhaps the most distinguished contributor to the field of human psychology the world has ever known. His research was the basis for the chapter 10,000 Hours in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book “Outliers.” It also was the foundation for his own bestseller “Peak.”
The easiest way to describe Anders’ career was that he studied people that were living, breathing examples of self-actualization. People that achieved extraordinary accomplishments along a wide spectrum of highly diverse endeavors (sports, music, memorization, chess, typing, etc.). The knee-jerk assumption most of us make when we see achievement of significance is to attribute it to natural talent. Tiger Woods is simply a special human being. Same for Oprah, Beyoncé, etc. If nothing else, Ericsson’s work irrefutably proves that hypothesis to be incorrect! To use his terms, accomplishments of significance are invariably a function of “deliberate practice.” How bad do you want it and how hard are you willing to work to give yourself a chance of getting it?
The presence of self-actualization in your life is a function of the harmony you experience applying and developing your skills in the pursuit of objectives and goals that are meaningful to you. And, while there is no guarantee all or any of us can turn ourselves into Tiger, Oprah or Beyoncé, we most certainly can achieve a level of mastery in the pursuit of personalized meaning—if we are willing and persistent in our quest to truly maximize our potential.