The Genius in All of Us
David Schenk’s The Genius in All of Us may be the best of the “success” books. I have spent parts of the last 12 months reading Outliers , Talent Code, Talent is Overrated and finally Genius in All of Us.
The interesting thing about my year-long study of success is that all roads have led to the same place. The conclusion of all of these works points to one word. Passion. All of these books debunk the myth of giftedness and genetic talent. The evidence is clear that as Geoff Colvin wrote talent is overrated. I must admit to being skeptical but after approximately one thousand pages I now understand.
I have read so much on the topic that I might accidentally plagiarize. I will try not to. Passion is the special sauce the makes the succeeder. Succeeder is not even a word but it defines the successful person.
The message of all these authors is nearly identical in the final analysis. You can’t create passion but, you may ignite in it in your child by creating the correct environment. From a parental standpoint passion can be nurtured but not forced. Passion is almost fleeting, ephemeral. Some have it, some don’t. Maybe it exists on a bell shaped curve, I do not know for sure. I only know that it is the common theme of all these books, the thread that ties all these success tomes together.
The other theme that arises in all books in one way or another is Anders Ericson’s concept of deliberate practice. Not just practice but, deliberate practice. The passionate seem to be able to perform deliberate practice or as it is alternately referred to deep practice. Schenk describes deliberate practice as “not inherently enjoyable’ and as “not the repetition of already attained skills but repeated attempts to reach beyond ones current level”. Schenk goes on to note that these attempts are “associated with frequent failure”. (P 55)
The other concept that appears in all of these works is the ten thousand hour concept. The idea is that mastery of an area will take ten thousand hours of this previously-mentioned deliberate practice. Schenk makes a point to note that “surfing the net is not deliberate practice”. It is important to state that ten thousand hours is equal to three hours a day for more than ten years. The concept might explain why so many of us seem to arrive on the strength and conditioning scene in our forties. The reality is that ten thousand hours may take twenty years to accumulate. Even more significant is that ten thousand hours is not a guarantee of success, only a common thread. (P57)
Shenk also goes on to say that ‘finding ones true natural limit in any field takes many years and many thousands of hours of intense pursuit”. (P 58) He makes us realize how few of us have explored our true limits as coaches or as athletes. In fact, many athletic careers may not last long enough for mastery.
The lesson is sports, particularly for youth sport parents is go to practice. Practice, at least good practice, has the capacity to make change. Games on the other hand allow for too little exposure to the vital skills needed to succeed.
All page references above are from Genius in All of Us.