9 ways to become the best at anything.

If you’ve got authenticity down pat, the next concept to master in building your personal brand is to be the…
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If you’ve got authenticity down pat, the next concept to master in building your personal brand is to be the best in your field. Sounds like an immense task, doesn’t it? But, in fact, there are measurable efforts you can take to ensure you’re at the cutting edge of your industry which will, undoubtedly, boost your personal brand immeasurably.

Through a little trial and error when building my own personal brand, I’ve closed in on the nine most effective – and proven — ways to become the best at anything.

1. Gain expertise

The first step towards being the best is figuring out exactly what you want to be the best at. What is your area of expertise? Once you’ve homed in on exactly what your key skills are – the more specific you can be, the better — work on creating the perception you’re very good at what you do.

2. Hard work and deliberate practice

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Canadian journalist, author and speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, presented the theory that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to turn you into an expert, claiming that “by the age of 20, the most accomplished musicians estimated they spent over 10,000 hours in deliberate practice”. But, ‘deliberate practice’ isn’t just going through the motions, it’s about getting feedback and pushing yourself to improve. It won’t be fun, but it will get results.

3. Have great genetics

The bad news? All the hard work in the world won’t change your genetics, but if you are born with that je ne sais quoi, your path to success will certainly be easier.

4. Surround yourself with a great team

While, of course, it pays to put in deliberate practice and to be genetically gifted, your team plays a big part in your success, too. Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Adam Grant, talked – in his book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success — about studies of surgeons who, didn’t get better with practice, but rather at the specific hospital in which they practiced. For every procedure they handled at a given hospital, the risk of patient mortality dropped by one percent, but it stayed the same at other hospitals. The findings support the theory that the surgeons weren’t getting better, but rather getting more familiar with their support team’s strengths, weaknesses, habits and styles. His theory applied to Wall Street analysts, too. Even star analysts found their performances dropped on arrival at a new firm, and stayed low for at least five years.

5. Be a giver

Givers are often thought of those who get taken advantage of but, while that certainly happens, there is a school of thought that suggests givers are more creative, more successful and more likely to receive a Nobel prize. American Sociologist, Harriet Zuckerman, found that Nobel laureates often give the coveted ‘first authorship’ of their papers to less accomplished contemporaries. By their forties, Nobel laureates are first authors on 26 percent of their papers compared to their less accomplished contemporaries, who are first authors 56 percent of the time.

6. Never stop learning

According to Cisco Chairman and CEO, John Chambers, in a message he wrote to 2013 college graduates, we must ‘never stop learning’; just because you were an expert two years ago doesn’t mean you still will be if you stop staying ahead of the curve. “That’s what it takes in today’s fastmoving, data driven Internet of Everything world. All of us must be innovation ready and realise that career growth will go to those who continue to leverage the 21st century mind by adapting, discovering and learning new skills. To all graduates, I say congratulations and offer these three words of advice: ‘never stop learning’.

7. Model yourself on the best

If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want, then model your approach on theirs. That’s not to say you need to copy someone’s path, but rather learn from what methods they employed to get them to the top.

8. Never say die grit

While it always helps to have a sharp IQ, American psychologist, Angela Lee Duckworth has studied the importance of grit as a more valuable asset in success. In her Ted talk, ‘The Key To Success? Grit’, she said “Across lots of context, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success, and it wasn’t social intelligence, it wasn’t good looks, physical health and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals”.

9. Combine them

So, you don’t have 10,000 hours to hone your expert skills, and your genetics aren’t stellar? No problem; combining the above methods to the best of your abilities create a powerful force. Work hard, keep learning, surround yourself with a great team you’re familiar with, help others, emulate your heroes and keep a steely determination for success.

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