A Lesson in Mastery from the Yankees, An Unsettling Long-Read, Examining Social Learning, and More

Bring Ambition Newsletter - January 21, 2021

Hi folks and a warm welcome to new subscribers!

In the Bring Ambition Newsletter, I share 5+ things that are fascinating me lately in the world of professional and personal development, peak performance psychology, meta-learning, side hustles, and more. You'll receive unconventional resources, cool gadgets, practical advice, and other inspiring content.


1.) Surprising professional development lesson from the New York Yankees:

Eric Cressey is the Director of Player Health and Performance for the New York Yankees. But you don’t have to be a baseball player, or even an athlete, to benefit from his advice.

His thoughts on developing talented people are as relevant for training Yankees as they are for myself, training private equity professionals, or for you, in advancing your own career:

"What makes you spectacular also makes you susceptible." Doubling down on your gifts is a high-risk / high-reward strategy.  In the case of an MLB star, a spectacular throwing arm makes them susceptible to injury and liable to become a one-trick pony. In the professional world, the traits and behaviors that help you rise to the top are rarely the same ones that keep you there. Your spectacular assets suddenly become limitations, or worse, liabilities.

For example, you might lean on your “Type A” engine, rising through the ranks with your ability to take instruction, solve problems, and execute with intensity. But what happens as you become more tenured?

Your value-add comes from your ability to think strategically and trust others to execute the day to day. Being too focused on "getting things done" and dealing with minutiae can become a liability for a rising star or senior person who is expected to create strategy, chart the course, manage teams, and allocate resources.

And so, as Cressey advises, there is no single, perfect training intervention for high-potential individuals. They require a holistic, long-term development plan from the start.

Sure, identify and double down on your strengths. Hone them to a fine edge so you can use them to maximum effect. But also ensure you step away from the day-to-day to build meta-skills like resilience, time management, strategic thinking, agility, delegation, etc. Identify development areas early on and work hard to shore up weaknesses. Your toolbox will grow, providing more flexibility to deal with new challenges as they arise. And as 2020 showed us, you never know what those challenges will be.

Don’t put off building the skills that will serve you in five or ten years. Make the time, and start now.

A big thanks to Pat Cole (@TerrapinWell), my part-time acupuncturist / health coach and full-time partner in crime for forwarding these tweets.

2.) Purchase under $30 I can’t live without:

I’m a dedicated hand-writer of notes, to-do lists, goals, etc. To make the experience more enjoyable, I’ve been experimenting with fountain pens and now I’m totally hooked.

My current favorite is the Waterman Allure Fountain Pen — it’s elegant looking, doesn’t break the bank, and feels amazing to write with. Now I have added motivation to track and complete to-dos, just so I can write more with the pen.

It’s amazing how little things like improving your writing experience can have such an outsized effect on productivity.

3.) NEW article from the blog:

After our first two articles on developing self-efficacy, we’ve just released the third and final installment in the series: “How to Develop Self-Efficacy, Part 2: Social Learning and Managing Stress.”

This is the most value-packed article yet. We’ve even included lists of specific tactics at the end of each section that you can test and implement immediately.

4.) In case you missed it:

The Hero of the Month,” from our last newsletter, explored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and ten surprising facts about his life.

As mentioned, my goal is to finish King’s autobiography in the next month and I invite you to join me (I’m making steady progress and it’s amazing so far - you can still catch up!)

5.) Long-read that will leave you saying "wow"

The Unsettling Truth About the ‘Mostly Harmless’ Hiker.” A fascinating and thought-provoking 21st-century mystery with fantastic writing by Nicholas Thompson.

6.) Incredibly useful infographic

The Six Principles of Design.” I’m not a designer by background but I am a huge advocate of borrowing skills from other domains.

This infographic is a great quick reference guide to help you make more visually appealing work. It’s like everything you would take away from an intro-level design course in a single, easy-to-understand page.

I’m constantly working with imagery: doing rudimentary graphic design (see graphic above…), building infographics and powerpoints, creating ads and marketing materials, doing instructional design. This infographic is immediately practical and helpful, and I’m looking forward to leveraging it more.

As always, I'd love feedback on this newsletter. What did you enjoy? What's the worst thing about it that needs to be fixed as soon as possible? Reply here, or you can reach me on Twitter or Instagram.

Have a great weekend!

Jon D'Alessandro

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