Sunday, August 11, 2013

10,000 Hours? That's a Good Start. Try This, Too

Since Malcolm Gladwell came out with Outliers, the whole "10,000 hours-to-be-successful" meme has been a strong one.  While I don't doubt the concept or the formidable intellect of Mr. Gladwell, I would say that the hours-in/success-out function might not apply very neatly to things that happen on a more day-to-day level.*

One's mentality is pretty important, too.  And I know I already wrote about this concept at length several weeks ago, but I saw a quote today that I fell in love with, and feel compelled to share here:

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." -Robert Hughes

I have no idea who Robert Hughes is, but I'd like to shake his hand if that'd be at all possible.  If you look at people who are truly at the top of their game -- whether in sports, performance art, medicine, business, etc. they are very tough on themselves.

Yes, yes, they're "confident" in the sense that they believe that they can ultimately make it happen.  But that is NOT the same sort of vapid, airy confidence that comes from pithy platitudes and affirmations like, "I can achieve what I can believe," or whatever else gets peddled in airport bookstores.

I worked with a student today who is preparing for an upcoming test.  He will do very well.  How do I know?  Because I can see it.  He's hungry.  When he gets something wrong, he gets mad.  He says bad words.  He throws the dry-erase markers sometimes.  THEN he wants to go back through from scratch to see WHY he got it wrong, so that it won't happen again.

Other students don't do that.  Other students fall into the "but I didn't mean that, so I'm not really wrong" trap.  Guess what?  They tend NOT to do well on GameDay.  Any shocker?

I've spent tons of time over the past year around business start-ups, and around students preparing for the GMAT.  Admittedly, my observations are still really just anecdotes, but hey, they're my anecdotes.  The biggest problem I see around me is NOT lack of confidence.  It's lack of introspection, lack of hunger, and lack of that doubt/fear that says, "I don't want to be a dirtbag."

The greatest performers/NFL Quarterbacks/songwriters, etc. always have that slight bit of fear that's nagging at them, saying something like, "Don't screw this up.  You know what bad looks like...don't be it."  How do I know?  Well, I'm just going off what they say in interviews years down the line.

If I have to pick between Jim Kelly puking his guts out in the locker room before the kickoff, or Ryan Leaf posing for pictures with cheerleaders wearing his cap, I'm taking Jim Kelly every time (please, no Super Bowl jokes).  Jim Kelly HAD what Hughes was talkin' bout.  HE is the Hall of Fame passer.  Ryan Leaf did not.  HE is probably doing hard time somewhere in Montana...or something.

* Admittedly, he never said it was a simple in-and-out type of function.  I kinda stretched w/using him as the lead there.  

1 comment:

KMM said...

Call me crazy...I would love to see people apply these principles to parenting.