The Route to Greatness

Wayne's World

Until recently, the preponderance of scholarly evidence convinced many that hard work was more important than talent.  Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, for example, published a landmark study in 1993 that found that practice time accounted for 80% of the difference between elite musicians and amateurs.  However, a new study co-authored by Zack Hambrick and published in the Journal of Psychological Science suggests otherwise.  With data compiled from the results of 88 studies across a wide range of disciplines, Hambrick et al estimated that practice time alone was responsible for only 20-25% of the difference.  It would seem that artistic geniuses are born to greatness.  But Ericsson remains unconvinced.  He insists that when the data is refined to include what he calls “deliberate practice,” more intense and with immediate expert feedback, it is practice that makes the difference.   I would like to think that Ericsson is right.  To be sure, some people are gifted from birth.  But without the possibility of developing even meager skills, there would be no inclination to strive. 


Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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