Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gladwell's Hours

Last year's New Year's resolution, for me, was that I would blog, at least one more entry, more than last year. As of right now, I need to blog 10 more times in 25 days to meet my goal. I really do learn something everyday. I work at home and listen to several podcasts a day which is mostly talk but some are music.

Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers: The Story of Success, sounds like a great read. I haven't read it yet, perhaps I'll read it next (after I finish this Orson Scott Card novel). I have heard Gladwell speak on several podcasts and I think he was on the Daily Show recently. His latest subject is why some people have extraordinary success and some don't. He doesn't believe in the gifted but believes that people become successful through practice and lots of hard work. It is kinda like that old joke .... "Young man! Young man! How do I get to Fenway Park?!" The young man responds "PRACTICE!"

He calls his principle the 10,000 Hours to Success. His best example is Bill Gates. Gates apparently spent 10,000 hours on a computer before he turned 18. I did the math, this over 416 days if he was awake on the computer all that time. This might explain Bill Gates' personality. This is not to say that everyone who spends 10,000 hours on the computer before he/she is 18 is going to grow up to be a billionaire. But given some luck and intelligence with the 10,000 hours, you have an outlier. My old track coach, Ira Brown, used to say that luck is when preparation met opportunity. So 10,000 hours doing anything like playing video games or watching Bill O'Riley isn't necessarily going to get you anything ... other than a potbelly and/or a bad attitude. It is important that you spend your 10,000 hours doing that is worth doing, hopefully learning or building a skill.

The coolest stat I have heard him state is that something like 90% of the elite hockey and soccer players in the US and Canada are born in the months of January, February and March. This could be mere chance or this could be explained by the fact that most youth hockey programs on the continent have a cutoff of a January birthday to get into them. This would mean that those who get into these programs at a younger age are more likely to succeed. They just have more time under their belt than the others ... there are those hours again. This doesn't mean that every kid that is born in January is going to success or if you are born in December you are not. It is just a high level look at trends. How do you get the Molson Center? Practice!

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