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Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Talent Myth

In Mathew Syed's book Bounce, discuss why so many people Many people practice a new skill briefly and give up, believing they lack talent. But through his own experiences and based on the data of other "great talents" he sheds light on the myth that great achievers are born that way and the reason so many people are just average is a result of the simply did not put in sufficient time and effort before they gave up becoming great.

It’s Practice, Not Talent, That Counts

Most people believe that innate talent determines success. Thus, great athletes supposedly  have their individual sports “encoded in [their] DNA.” Similarly, great musicians, artists, mathematicians, race-car drivers and other world-class experts presumably benefit from such encoding. Not true. Through formal testing, researchers have determined that athletes, artists, musicians and others become great only by putting in “an average of 10,000 hours” of purposeful, dedicated, intense and challenging practice. 

This works out to about three hours daily for a “minimum of 10 years,” the amount of time needed to become an expert on “any complex task.” “Nobody – but nobody – has ever become really proficient at golf without practice, without doing a lot of thinking and then hitting a lot of shots,” golf great Jack Nicklaus said. This is true in every field. 

Most people are quick to give up when they can’t do something new. They rationalize, “I am not a natural linguist,” or “I don’t have the brain for numbers” or “I lack the coordination for sports.” In truth, they probably spent only “a few weeks or a few months of halfhearted effort” before quitting.

“Purposeful Practice”

Practice in which you do not constantly drive yourself will not improve your skills. Numerous research studies show that how long people work at their careers has little to do with achieving optimal performance. Success requires not only strong experience, but also “deep concentration.” Thus, you must constantly push your limits and extend yourself beyond your normal comfort zone. To strengthen your abilities, practice must have a clear purpose: to make progress.

How much "Practice" are you putting into your career?

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