The Village View

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Freakanomics article, soccer and consulting

I emailed this article from the NY Times to myself over a week ago because it was written by the Freakanomics guys and because it deals with the sport I'm passionate about, soccer. Just read it now and had some random thoughts I figured I'd share:

If you were to examine the birth certificates of every soccer player in next month's World Cup tournament, you would most likely find a noteworthy quirk: elite soccer players are more likely to have been born in the earlier months of the year than in the later months.
- I was born in March; I should be a much better soccer player.

Ericsson's research suggests a third cliché as well: when it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love — because if you don't love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good.
- I really like my current job; I didn't feel the same way about consulting (the process of consulting I'm referring to, I think very highly of my former colleagues, as well as the firm at which I worked). I think I'm much better at this job than I was at consulting. (Note to any of my management that is reading this: I still think I can get better at my job, so no worries this is NOT as good as it gets). I know this is not earth-shaking insight, but it sure is nice to have some university professor back you up on this.

Deliberate practice entails more than simply repeating a task — playing a C-minor scale 100 times, for instance, or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.
- One of the things I really appreciated about my experience in consulting (yes, now I feel compelled to say something nice) was the valuable feedback I got. The Firm is the master of this. Even if you excelled on your project, you always were told where you could improve. This idea was recently reinforced to me when I heard Jack Welch speak about candor. He radically changed the review process at GE to make sure employees heard accurately about their performance. I believe it is truly difficult to grow as a professional, and as a person, without honest, sometimes difficult hear (and to give) feedback. I hope my bosses and colleagues realize they have an open invitation to tell me what I'm doing well and where I could improve.


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