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February 10, 2009

The Outliers

I recently started reading a very insightful book called Outliers, which is a study of successful people. I highly recommend it, but one of the most interesting things he's observed is that it seems like in some ways talent is actually overrated, but dedication and practice are really the over-riding factors in success.

Malcolm Gladwell contends that before someone can be truly amazing at what he or she does, they need to invest 10,000 hours in developing that craft. 10,000 hours. Think about that! That's 5 years, full time hours.

Do you tink you've spent 10,000 hours doing anything specific?

Posted by jason on February 10, 2009 12:50 AM


Other than raising my child and teaching Pre-K, I doubt it. Unless shopping counts?! ;-)

Posted by: kathiek on February 10, 2009 01:07 AM

hmmm. Maybe I have spent that many hours dancing and singing.

I do agree that talent is overrated, though; I have seen a good amount of people who have tons of natural talent simply fade away from doing what they had once done so passionately because they didn't the discipline to keep working on it or the heart to sacrifice for it.

Posted by: Jessica on February 10, 2009 01:11 AM

To be more exact, he wasn't saying that talent isn't important. Of course it is. But talent alone won't do much of anything. He was writing about the Beatles, and how everyone just thinks they were amazingly talented. But actually they were a house band for a pub for years where they played all sorts of songs all day, every day. That kind of practice and honing really set them up for their later success.

Even Mozart, being identified as a child prodigy at a very young age, had tons of hours of training by the time he got older.

Posted by: jason on February 10, 2009 01:14 AM

I just heard some statistics that said the people who have been successful are not the prodigy children or the most talented, but those who work diligently. That would confirm what you said. Thought that was interesting.

Posted by: Mom on February 10, 2009 08:14 AM

Yeah, kind of an update of that old aphorism that the success is a combination of 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration (or some percentage ratio like that). I've always admired your trait, actually, of diving in and working extremely hard and long on what you're passionate about. That diligence and perseverance mark your life. The amazing thing is how you manage to squeeze so many other things into your life too--real healthy things like quality family time, vacation, church. An organic balance.

Posted by: Pop on February 10, 2009 08:41 AM

I have carefully practiced sleeping. After many thousands of hours, I have become a master craftsman.

Posted by: Voltron on February 10, 2009 09:37 AM

i bought outliers the day it came out. you should read malcolm gladwell's other books, blink and the tipping point. though i think outliers is the best. so interesting!

also, when you have 20 minutes, here's a talk by gladwell. he's a very good storyteller.


Posted by: SnakeMan on February 10, 2009 07:42 PM

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