25 February, 2009

Secrets of Success

outliers-malcolm-gladwell-hardcover-cover-artDo you want to reach the top in your field? Then be prepared to put in the hours – 10,000 of them.According to a new book Outliers by New Yorker journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell, natural talent won’t be enough. 10,000 hours equates to roughly 10 years, practising three hours a day, and it pays to start early. For example, by the time Mozart wrote his first recognised master-work at 21, he had already been composing concertos for ten years.

“What’s striking about the whole 10,000 hours thing is not the idea that you need to work hard to be good, which we knew, it’s that 10,000 hours is such a long time. You need to work really, really, really hard to be good, and once you understand how great that number is, then you understand that the task of being good requires assistance. It’s not something we can do on our own. It’s something that takes so long that it requires the rest of us to be patient and supportive. If it was 3,000 hours….suddenly excellence would be attainable by a large number of people. When you realise that it’s 10,000 hours, you realise that excellence is actually something that’s really difficult to attain. That people need help to get there.”

For a good review of the book and its hypothesis see NZ Listener article by Guy Somerset. The article also cites examples of an Auckland PHD student and Black Cap Martin Guptill and how they achieved their success.
Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell (Penguin/Allen Lane $37)

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