Saturday, January 8, 2011

aptitude is really a function of time. and some other stuff.

My 6th book read since Christmas. Oh, Ipad, you and I have become BestFriendsForever. The book Outliers by Macolm Gladwell, has my head spinning. So much so that I have chosen it as Januarys Mother/Daughter bookclub selection and as the designated topic for tomorrows Sunday dinner. I am itching to discuss this book (as ld can attest). Give it a go, it's an easy narrative non-fiction read.

Gladwell brings up the idea of the “10,000 Hour Rule”. Scientific studies show that 10,000 hours are required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert – in anything. Think the Beatles, Bill Gates, Mozart, too.

Gladwell quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin:
“In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.“

The notion that it takes at least 10 years (or 10,000 hours) of dedicated practice for people to master most complex endeavors, like learning a language, mastering a musical instrument, etc. it’s not a new idea. But it is, according to Gladwell, a requirement to be an Outlier.

"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good," he writes. "It's the thing you do that makes you good."

But wait, there’s more. He tackles cultural differences among airplane pilots and how that contributes to crashes, why professional hockey players are born mostly in January, February and March, Asians proclivities to math and how they relate to rice paddies, and why Appalachian hicks are such hotheads. Fascinating, stuff. Really. As with anything it’s not to be swallowed wholly and requires thought to sift and weigh his arguments and conclusions. But me likey.


“No one- not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software’s billionaires, and not even geniuses- ever makes it alone.”

“Success arises out of the steady accumulation of advantages: when and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were all make a significant difference in how well you do in the world.”

“Each of us has his or her own distinct personality. But overlaid on top of that are tendencies and assumptions and reflexes handed down to us by the history of the community we grew up in, and those differences are extraordinarily specific.”

“When we understand how much culture and history and the world outside of the individual matter to professional success…. We have a way to make successes out of the unsuccessful.”

“Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don’t. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky- but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.”,9171,1858880,00.html

1 comment:

BGomer said...

After our brief discussion and reading this post, this book really does sound interesting and I will be stealing Mackenzies copy!