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Pondering Greatness and deliberate practice

Posted by Meg Bear on December 24, 2008


baseballWas watching an excellent Charlie Rose last night where he interviewed Malcolm Gladwell and Geoff Colvin on their books about Talent, Performance and Achievement.  Some excellent thoughts came through:

  1. IQ doesn’t make much difference to your performance.  After about 120 IQ points,  it no longer gives you that much of an advantage.  This probably rings true for most of us, as I think we can all name someone who clearly has a high IQ but is not be the most effective person overall.
  2. Natural talent is mostly a myth.  There is such a thing as natural talents, they are necessary but not sufficient for greatness.   People who are great at their craft are not great exclusively due to natural talent. 
  3. Deliberate practice is the key.  Those who do better, are those who are always looking to improve.  Those who push themselves to learn more and perfect their craft.  Trying harder really does make the biggest difference. 
  4. You need a lot of practice to be at the top of your craft, 10k hours  (approx 10 years) at least .   The more the better and after the ten year mark you seem to hit a stride (that I would guess is both about expertise acquired AND commitment to improvement) that begins your path to greatness

Of all that I pondered from this program, number four was the most interesting for me.  In thinking of my own career in Talent, I often wonder if I’ve been doing this too long, if maybe there is not enough left for me to learn and moving on might be the right strategy.  With this new insight I realize that I’m between 25 and 30k hours into this field, really just hitting my stride.  Instead, my time would be best spent continuing to put deliberate practice to work into this field perfecting my craft.

So as I look to 2009 I plan to challenge myself with deliberate practice by

  • reading more — staying aware of the progress in our space. 
  • sharing more — blogs, twitter, conversations, etc. 
  • growing more — working on communication strategies to help others benefit from those 30k hours, taking on some new skills, etc.

That’s my list, what did I leave off?  Help coach me toward greatness readers.

15 Responses to “Pondering Greatness and deliberate practice”

  1. Ken Klaus said

    Meg,

    You and I were definitely on the same wavelength today! I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolutions this week as well and I too want to focus on areas of deliberate practice. Reading and writing are high on my list as is building a stronger network, personally and professionally. Who knows, I might even create a Facebook page; but let’s call this a stretch goal. =)

    Ken

  2. Meg, that’s such a good sentiment…hard work and practice. In these days of instant and continuous gratification, it’s cool to know that people are still willing to do the grind…and that the grind works.

    Cheers…and thanks for the great writing this year…more fun in 2009.

  3. Meg Bear said

    if for now other reason than to see more photos and videos of my girls I do recommend “The Facebook”. We’ll be there when you join.

  4. J said

    Even in ‘…these days of instant and continuous gratification…’ the grind works.
    No matter what the common thinking might be (and from my limited experience, i have been able to make out that such thinking is common only in ‘common’ individuals. Really successful people swear by ‘hard work and practice’)
    – it is so reassuring to have these ideas validated here.

    Thank you for this and other writings and look forward to reading more in 2009!

  5. Meg –
    A great post to start the New Year!

    I like you list. Read, Share, and Grow. Perhaps you’d want to add “Do more”, in the spirit of taking more shots, more risks, gaining more diverse experiences, etc…

  6. Barney Sperlin said

    I would add to “hard work and practice”:
    1) Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Practicing doing something poorly ingrains bad habits.
    2) Focus and concentration are big elements of the time you spend working hard and practicing. Multi-tasking guarantees that you will not be doing a good job.

  7. Amy Wilson said

    Coincidentally, my mom got me *Outliers* for Christmas. I am REALLY looking forward to reading it now.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that I am due for a 3 hour boxing session tomorrow.🙂

  8. J said

    @Amy please post some review when you are done reading Outliers. These days i do my reading exclusively based on recommendations🙂

  9. Amy Wilson said

    @J – I most certainly will. I very much enjoyed the concepts presented in The Tipping Point, but found the writing style rather meandering. This may be due to the book I read just prior to The Tipping Point – Freakonomics – which also presents interesting concepts, but in such a clear, scientific way.

    @Barney – I can vouch for the perfect practice statement. I practiced boxing without my trainer today … I’m pretty sure it wasn’t perfect and I’m pretty sure I can’t count it toward by 10,000 hours😉

  10. Meg Bear said

    @Amy – I’d love to borrow the book when you are done
    @J and @Frank – I agree that it’s somehow reassuring to know that there is a reason for the grind. Thanks so much for the kind words on our blogging efforts
    @Dan – thanks for the suggestion! You are spot on that “more” is one that I need to do as I am a cautious type by nature.
    @Barney – excellent point! Not all practice is useful and I agree the multi-tasking is one of the newest downfalls of our time.

  11. Amy Wilson said

    @J – I just finished Outliers and it was REALLY good. There are so many good stories and revelations in it; you won’t be disappointed, even if you’ve already been hit over the head with hockey birthdays and 10,000 hours. In addition to the “hard work gets results” takeaway, I was inspired to realize how much *we* can do to create opportunities for others to be successful.

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