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Stories of deliberate practice

Outliers is an excellent place to start.

It features the story of Mozart’s “genius” and the Beatle’s “overnight success” told through the lens of the 10,000 hour rule and deliberate practice. (More on Mozart here.)

If you don’t feel like buying a book, this article in the New Yorker (also by Gladwell) is another great example.

And if you missed it yesterday, check out Episode 244 of Freakonomics Radio, “How to Become Great at Just About Anything” for a brilliant story of someone putting in a lot of hours and moving from “poor” to “outstanding”.

The moral of the stories:

Here’s the thing. We often grow up believing in genius, but perfection almost never flows, fully formed, from the pen of a genius.* So often we’re ignorant of the process: the hundreds of scratched-over early drafts and deleted pages, the agonised discussions, the “letting it sit in a drawer” and the starting overs.

It’s true of athletes. It’s true of crafts(wo)men and visual artists. It’s true of writers. It’s true of public speakers. It’s true of mathematicians, and accountants, scientists and programmers. It’s true of leaders and managers. It’s probably true of parents and spouses and neighbours.

It will be true of you. Go to work.

*And when it does, it’s usually a genius who’s put in a lot of hard work first

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