Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Rec - Talent Is Overrated

This book is a poor man's Outliers - for sure.

But nonetheless I found some utility in it.

It pretty much corroborates, and elaborates upon Gladwell's contention that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.

That'd be 3 hours a day for 10 years....or, 6 hours a day for 5 straight years, Morons.

Colvin promulgates the expression *deliberate practice* to describe the optimal way these working years must be spent. But this was by no means the first time I crossed such a notion.

Dave Pelz, my favorite golf instructor, modified the dated saying thusly, *PERFECT practice makes perfect.* He believed that most popular golf practice amounted to simply grooving bad swings.

What all these clowns are saying is that practice has to be more than just hitting range balls or strumming the guitar. It has to be specifically designed to amplify and hone skills. A big thing from Colvin, and Pelz mind you, is the concept of *feedback* - constant feedback at that. In other words, one must be mindful of their relative performance at all times.

Herein comes the aid of a competent instructor; a set of more objective eyes than those of the ambitious one. Technology can help too - think video taping, computer analysis, and whatnot. Dave Pelz has his *putting track* which I, and Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, utilize to groove a perfectly straight putting stroke.

Pretty much the ideal way for someone get the 10,000 hours in with suitable oversight is to be born with fanatically educational parents (like my kids). One thing I learned from Colvin's book is that Tiger Woods is best described as a creation of his nutty, hard-charging father. Tiger's apparent genius was by no means inborn; it was systematically developed by his father - as was Mozart's.

And that's a lesson Colvin, and Gladwell, really drive home. That extreme accomplishment is ALWAYS the fruit of hard work and lucubration. His copious examples span the fields of music, chess, athletics, and business (though I found his case studies of Jeff Immelt and Steve Ballmer weak here).

Another bullet point from this book hits on the concept of creativity.

Colvin asserts that there are no *eureka* moments in the history of innovation - that landmark inspiration has never, ever, been spontaneous. Instead, it is always a by-product of vast domain-specific knowledge.

And, of course, that knowledge comes from putting those magical 10,000 hours in!

Read the book for yourselves. I could never do justice to a book in one of these blog posts. No, these are written for my own edification. I take notes and collate them here only in hope of better mental retention.

Think about a book you read recently or long ago. How much of it can you remember?

How long could you stand up and speak to its thesis?

I'll bet most of what y'all have read has been quickly reduced to a faint memory.

Take some notes; and then type them up.

Exercise some *deliberate practice* already!

See also - Outliers - A Must Read.

Addendum - It almost goes without saying how important these books are for those dutiful parents who refuse to cede the raising of their brood to Big Government.

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