83 pages 2 hours read

James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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Chapter 18-Conclusion

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 6: “Advanced Tactics: How to Go from Being Merely Good to Being Truly Great”

Chapter 18 Summary: “The Truth About Talent (When Genes Matter and When They Don’t)”

People are born with different abilities and gifts. One of the keys to maximizing success is competing in the right field. Habits are easier to form, and excellence is easier to attain, if it aligns with your natural strengths and inclinations. Michael Phelps the swimmer and Hicham El Guerrouj the middle-distance runner are Olympic gold medalists. Phelps is six-foot four, while El Guerrouj is five foot nine. However, both athletes have the same length of inseam on their pants. Phelps has short legs and a long torso, which is an asset for swimming, while El Guerrouj’s long legs make him an exceptional runner. Their bodies are perfectly proportioned for their relative sports, but it is unlikely that they would excel if they switched fields. Both athletes play a sport where the odds are in their favor. Genes offer powerful advantages in favorable circumstances and form a serious disadvantage in unfavorable conditions. Genes can help clarify where you should put your energy, but you still must put in the work.

Picking the right habit is crucial to success. People tend to prefer activities where they excel. Competence is energizing and attracts praise, which leads to rewards and more opportunities.