Friday, May 1, 2009

Delibrate Practice = Genius

I read this article from the New York Times today and it really hits home a topic that's been on my mind lately. It refers to the following book, which I've read a bit of as well: Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin.

The premise of both the book and the article is that there are no born geniuses, that great composers like Mozart and great performers like Tiger Woods became great because of their ability to spend ridiculous amounts of time practicing and perfecting their craft. What Colvin says in his book is that what really matters is not just practice, but deliberate practice.

For example, the difference in practice and deliberate practice in drawing might be the difference between doodling and spending hours studying human anatomy and drawing the human figure over and over. Colvin differentiates regular practice and deliberate practice by the level of concentration. If you can do it while watching TV, you're not learning that much really, and it's not deliberate practice.

I think it's an interesting concept and I really like it. It implies that anyone can be awesome if they practice hard enough. But Colvin does continue to say that subjecting oneself to many hours a day of deliberate practice is something that not everyone can do. And that's what makes the genius.

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