Practice Makes Perfect

I just finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the book really does put a lot of ideas about life and success in perspective. The first thing you begin to understand is that opportunity and luck have a lot to do with how successful you can become. People like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Bill Joy (Sun Microsystems) were born at the perfect time (1950s’) when computers were in their early stages (late 60’s) and they put forth the hard work to become amazing successes. If Gates were born 10 years earlier, even with hard work, wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be the Bill Gates of today.

The idea of how hard you work is also unbelievably important. I’m not sure people realize how integral it is that you practice something to get better. There might be some “natural” athletes but for the rest of us, we get better through practice. I take my own life and use basketball as the perfect example. When I was younger I may have been a tad more coordinated or a little faster than other kids but the reason I was one of the better players was because I went to summer camps, I went to winter camps, and I played in my driveway all the time. As I got older I just stopped playing and it was clear this was the case as I tried to play in my twenties. I didn’t have a feel for the basket, my shot left me, and my confidence was stirred. I could still be a good player but I don’t practice to become good and now I just fall into the masses. It’s not that I’m bad, I just don’t practice.

Another thing to note is how your upbringing is a HUGE determination of how much opportunity you have. If you come from a poor home and your parents don’t have extra money, you aren’t going to be able to attend summer and winter basketball camps. You won’t get coaches watching you and molding you into a better player. If you aren’t good at something most people just assume you weren’t born to be good at whatever is in question. Not true. Most likely you just don’t have any experience or practice. People aren’t good at things because they may lack practice and opportunity.

10,000 hours is the amount of time it takes to be an expert at something. If you haven’t put in this amount of time at something you consider yourself to be good at, you aren’t going to be that good. I don’t wonder why I’m not good at tennis. I know why I’m not good at tennis, I don’t practice. I’ve never practiced. I’ve probably logged 100 lifetime hours on a tennis court. It doesn’t surprise me when I’m not good at it. I believe this is a realization that some people just don’t see. In their own minds they are good at everything and then wonder what happened when they lose. You get good at anything by doing it and practicing it. Spending time doing a particular task is how you achieve success. Now think about what you are good at and understand how much time you’ve put into being good at it. Most likely this idea or activity is what you are passionate about. Now find some way to spend your life living off of that idea. Life will become easy and fun if you can figure out how to live your life doing something you like and are good at.

By |2012-03-26T09:46:53-04:00March 26th, 2012|My Brain|0 Comments

Outliers – Young for Your Grade Example

I read the book “the Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell a few weeks ago and I just started the book “Outliers”. The tipping point was an absorbing read that produced a lot of good thoughts on how small, thoughtful changes in ideas can lead to major results. I just read the first chapter in Outliers and I’m immediately stunned by how this chapter could have affected my life. The general gist of the chapter is that athletes born closer to the cut off date of a league have a higher chance of success than those born later. The example in the book looks at how a hockey league’s cut off date for players is January 1st and how the majority of the team’s players have birthdays in the first 3 months of the year. The guy born on Jan 1st will be the oldest player in the league is where the idea lies. Meaning the earlier month birthday are the older, more mature athletes who develop early and than seem to get the most coaching because of this. These types of athletes seem to have the best chance at future success.

I think about this topic and how Gladwell stresses that this important component is a huge factor in the development of a human being. Here’s another example to make the point clearer. A student of exactly 5 years old and a student of exactly 4 years old are in a kindergarten together learning the same material. With an extra year of maturation the 5 year old will perform better than the 4 year old for the reason that he’s one year older. Since they are in the same class the 5 year old appears smarter through maturation. In turn he receives more attention and gets put into gifted programs whereas the 4 year old lags behind at no fault of his own intelligence but the mere fact that he’s younger and less educated in life. The 5 year old also seems bigger, faster, and stronger so he gets more opportunity from coaches in sports than the 4 year old. It’s only one year difference but at such a young age this type of attention starts to create a snowball effect. More time is spent with the older student preparing him whereas the 4 year old is dismissed as slow.

This relates to myself personally in a number of ways that I haven’t even thought about until this day. My birthday is Nov 6th of 1983. I don’t know when the cut off was for whatever grade I was in but I was always one of the youngest students in my grade. I carried this with me through my entire education. It doesn’t seem like it makes a big difference but I think this could be an obvious reason for why I was always one of the smallest kids in my grade until junior year of high school when I finally had a growth spurt. Just to compare athletics with my brother Jeff (birthday Jan 3rd ((the ideal birthday)) and I’m using him because we are family), I was a full 10 months behind in a maturation and his times were significantly better than mine. I don’t doubt he worked harder and had better coaching to boot but it’s the facts.

I just wonder how much this seemingly small decision of deciding to throw me into school early instead of holding me back a year would have altered my life. If I were taking all my tests with an entire extra year of life under my belt if things would have been different for me. My entire life would have been drastically changed if my parents decided to hold me back. I will acknowledge though that I played athletics with the right age group for travel and was never a standout star so I’m not sure how much it really comes into play. Fascinating material though to know that there are studies proven that back up this idea.

By |2012-03-22T01:12:17-04:00March 22nd, 2012|My Life|0 Comments

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