Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Retain Submitting the Very Good Function

I thought it'd be funny to use lines from spam comments as titles of posts. Thus the nonsensical gibberish you see above. Moving on...

I recently started reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," a book about how/why people become successful. It's been hugely enlightening to me so far and I've really enjoyed it. There are several patterns researchers have stumbled upon as to why people are successful in different areas, and one of them involved analyzing the so-called "naturally talented." People like Mozart or Michael Jordan. Those we look at and are amazed at their skills. I always thought a lot of that was due to inborn talent. Apparently that's not really the case. Turns out practice really does make perfect. 10,000 hours of practice, that is.

That's right. 10,000 hours. Researchers analyzed many amazingly talented people and determined that it takes on average about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. So of course I had to figure out how many hours I'd spent doing various things to see how much farther I had to go. I thought I'd spent quite a bit of time practicing the piano... on average about an hour a week for the last 25 years. That amounts to 1,300 hours. Huh. A little surprising. No wonder I haven't progressed very much. Moving onto something else, I figured out how many hours I had spent on cooking. This one is a little harder to determine, but I figure if I went with 5 hours a week for the last 5 years, that would be pretty close to a lifetime total. Oddly enough that also came to 1,300 hours. Geez. Ok so no career as a professional chef in the near future for me!

I wondered how long it would take to get to rack up all those hours if I were to really dedicate myself to something. Well, if I were to spend 8 hours a day, 7 days a week practicing, it would take 3 1/2 years to become an expert. Or if I wanted to slack off and just do 4 hours a day, it would take 7 years. After looking at those numbers, it's not too surprising that there aren't very many Michael Jordans out there.

I've decided that there isn't anything out there I care about enough to spend that much time on. It seems like it would be easy to get burned out on something after spending so much time on it. To me, having a wide variety of interests is more exciting than being really good at just one thing. Plus, I'm really, really good at being average. I've got over 270,000 hours of practice under my belt after all!

“Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”  
-Malcolm Gladwell


Denise said...

I'm with you. I would get bored spending that much time on one thing. I consider myself a "Jack of all trades, Master of none." I like it that way.

Holly said...

This was VERY interesting! I agree - I could never spend that much time on one thing. It's fun to have a variety.

Rachel said...

I've thought about this a lot since you posted it. I think I would dedicate 10 hours/week to writing so I could be AMAZING by the time I was fifty. I also would like to dedicate 10,000 hours to loving people so I can love like Mother Teresa.

Rachel said...

Also, I love the title of this post.