Effort is the Key to Excellence (1): a review of ‘Bounce’

. . . . man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone.

(Bahá’í Administration: page 9)

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Do you think excellence at an activity is a gift or is it earned?

Sir Michael, a character played by James Fox in a recent recent episode of ‘Midsomer Murders,’ clearly thought it was a gift handed down in the genes and deranged his whole life around that creed (I won’t say more in case I spoil the plot, if such a plot can be spoiled at all). Apparently most of us believe the same or something like it, much to our disadvantage. It’s the result of natural talent, we conclude, rather than hard work so if I haven’t already got it it’s not worth trying to acquire it.

Over the last few decades it has been slowly becoming apparent that this is nonsense. Previous posts have referred, for example, to Jeffrey Schwartz‘s hard-headed look at the issue in The Mind and the Brain. Practice may not make you perfect but it raises your capacity beyond your wildest dreams and changes your brain in the process. All you need to do is stick at it for long enough with the right attitude. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

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