Hard work, not talent, leads to greatness

There’s an article in Yahoo Business today that says it takes hard work to become great. I agree.

There’s also mention of something researchers call the ten-year rule.

Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.
What about Bobby Fischer, who became a chess grandmaster at 16? Turns out the rule holds: He’d had nine years of intensive study. And as John Horn of the University of Southern California and Hiromi Masunaga of California State University observe, “The ten-year rule represents a very rough estimate, and most researchers regard it as a minimum, not an average.” In many fields (music, literature) elite performers need 20 or 30 years’ experience before hitting their zenith.

I’d never heard of this rule before, but it’s very interesting and relates directly to my life. People say I have an amazing talent for using computers, particularly more recently. I understand many concepts about how computers work, what they can do, and what they’ll do in the future. Plus I can put this to practical use; typing faster than I can talk and actually getting stuff done. But here’s what really strikes me: it has been almost exactly 10 years since I first started using computers. In 1996, I created my first webpage. It’s now 2006, 10 years later!

For most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That’s the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn’t be rare. …

The critical reality is that we are not hostage to some naturally granted level of talent. We can make ourselves what we will. Strangely, that idea is not popular. People hate abandoning the notion that they would coast to fame and riches if they found their talent. But that view is tragically constraining, because when they hit life’s inevitable bumps in the road, they conclude that they just aren’t gifted and give up.

Maybe we can’t expect most people to achieve greatness. It’s just too demanding. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn’t reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.

The main reservation I have about this view is that it sounds way too good to be true. It sounds like wishful thinking. But when you think about it, that’s not a good reason against something. Why wouldn’t this be the case? Even in more Core 103 class with Professor Dunn, he often talks about the fact that many of the greatest scientists who came up with the greatest discoveries in science were terrible students. As young researchers, they made lots of mistakes, showed no special talent and had low GPAs. But later in their career, their genius came out and they changed the world. Perhaps it’s much the same way here.

2 Responses to “Hard work, not talent, leads to greatness”

  1. great article… I myself believe (and speaking from personal experience) that it takes some time to perfect or excel on something.

  2. friday emmanuel says:

    tell me more about greatness in hardwork

Leave a Reply