What do you think the main ingredient of a brilliant performance is? The performance here could be a presentation, an exam, a piece of writing, or something else. What do you think the key is that can make or break it?
The answer, I believe, is preparation. Preparation is what makes the difference between great and mediocre performances. Eric Buttterworth put it well:
Behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation.
You might think that some people are a “natural” at what they do. But guess what? There is no such thing as a “natural” when it comes to high-level performance. Their seemingly effortless performance comes from good old-fashioned hard work.
I was reminded of this principle when I read an article about Fabiano Caruana, a rising chess player who is now ranked second in the world.
Caruana is earning a reputation as the most prepared player of his era — a man who studies everything and forgets nothing.
“Hundreds of games are played each day all around the world,” he noted. “And a lot of them are important. They’re all available online, but you have to put in the time to look at them all. And you need to analyze, find new trends, keep trying to find new ideas to use against specific opponents.”
These resources are available for everyone, but only a few people “put in the time to look at them all.” Furthermore, Caruana doesn’t just “look” at them; he “analyzes, finds new trends, and keeps trying to find new ideas.” That’s a lot of work.
It’s worth it though. Caruana had just recorded an impressive victory in the strongest ever chess tournament. He won his first seven games in a row, something that’s virtually unheard of in high-level chess.
Another example of this principle at work is Steve Jobs. He rehearsed for many hours for days on end before taking the stage to deliver his famous keynotes. He looked natural and spontaneous on stage, but that’s because he already went through the grueling preparation beforehand.
Whatever it is you do, there is no shortcut to a brilliant performance. Your preparation is key. If you prepare well, you will reap the rewards of an outstanding performance.
Photo by Barbara Willi