Get Better: Skill-Sharpening Tips from Dr. Ahmad

Adapted from Skill: 40 Principles that Surgeons, Athletes, and Other Elite Performers Use to Achieve Mastery

Published Fall 2016
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Don’t Fall for the Prodigy Myth

Too often it’s believed that naturally gifted people can effortlessly do things that others will never be able to do. But talent in any field is honed through specific regimens, like persistent training and study. Remember that talent is not bestowed — it’s acquired. 

Always Carry a Notebook 

High-level performers keep a performance journal. They write and reflect. Get a journal and write your results from today, your ideas for tomorrow, and your goals for next week.

Reverse Engineer Your Mentor 

Identify the heroes or mentors who have inspired you, and watch them closely: study their preparation, their work ethic, their leadership skills, and how they respond to pressure. Do not passively observe them. Take command and immerse yourself in their excellence.

Let Go of Ego 

Self-critique is difficult but essential. People who pay deeper attention to an error learn significantly more than those who don’t. Address mistakes immediately, and take them seriously but never personally.

Isolate the Sweet Spot

You reach the sweet spot when you put yourself at the edge of your ability, which is where you learn the best and the quickest. The sweet spot is difficult, elicits frustration, creates alertness to errors, forces a struggle, and requires full engagement. Push to find your personal sweet spot. 

Read the related article MVP: Most Valuable Physician.

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