"Practice, practice, practice!"
Arthur Rubinstein, Pianist
Want to get really good at something? Want your kids to be successful? No need to be a genius. No need to have the perfect genes. You don't even have to have talent. All you need are 4 things. At least that's according to 3 new books and a lot of research studies.
2. You need to put your nose to the grindstone and practice for 10,000 hours. That means, if you can only spare 2 hours a day, it's going to take you 13.75 years to get really good at something.
3. You need to practice with your head in gear--consciously, deliberately and methodically. You need to break down each and every technique--think about what you are doing, to prevent your brain from going into its favorite mode, "sloppy automatic pilot".
4. You need to find a knowledgeable mentor who will give you constant feedback, point out your tiniest errors, and push you to take on tougher challenges. Simple, huh?
Oops! So that explains why I'm not a a smashing success at anything. I never liked to practice. I love to take shortcuts. And except for a couple of elementary school teachers I never had a mentor who pointed out my tiniest errors.
But, when I think about this prescription for success, it's absolutely right on the money.
What are we best at? The things we love to do. The things we do everyday. Violin, art, foreign languages, crafts, gardening, team sports? Forget about it! I was awful to mediocre. Digging into books, looking for information or trying out new recipes? Now that I could do everyday.
And for me, I know that I only improve when I do something consciously--methodically--analyzing carefully--thinking about how something works--figuring out what's working, what's not. And that takes a lot of time.
The hardest thing to come by is feedback. Let's face it--we rarely give honest constructive feedback to each other. And we share the positive more than the negative.
Last week I heard our brand new division head at work introduce himself at a "town hall" sort of meeting. Here's what he said--remember he's a scientist, "I'm a feedback kinda guy. I thrive on feedback. Please let me know how I am doing, and how how you think we can do our jobs better." So, I decided to send him a short "thumbs up" feedback email about his talk.
I love his reply: "tx. feedback is a gift!" So true. We need to gift each other more often.
What Are The Three Books That Are Bursting The Genius Bubble?
Malcolm Gladwell. The Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown, Nov. 2008.
Daniel Coyle. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. Bantam, Apr. 2009
Geoff Colvin. Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everyone Else. Portfolio, Oct. 2008.
Excerpts From David Brooks, NYT's article, "Genius: The Modern View"
"It's not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms of chess. Instead, it's deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft."
"Her practice would be slow, painstakingly and error-focused....By practicing this way, performers delay the automatizing process. The mind wants to turn deliberate, newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills. But the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance."
"The primary trait...is not some mysterious genius. It's the ability to develop a deliberate, strenuous and boring practice routine."
According to Coyle, (not Hoyle) "It's not who you are, it's what you do."
1. Find meaning and inspiration in your work.
2. Work hard.
3. Discover the relationship between effort and reward.
4. Seek out complex work to avoid boredom and repetition.
5. Be autonomous and control your own destiny as much as possible.
To read an interview with Gladwell click here.
"It can stretch and stretch, and get better all the time. Forget age!"
"I'm proof that if you keep at it, you'll get there. I can do more now than I could 50 years ago!"
Mrs. Calman teaches up to 11 classes a week with no sign of stopping and she keeps the 'corpse' posture strictly for her classes.
To read her more click here.
Meet You At Carnegie Hall!