10,000 hours

Posted on April 16, 2012


I finally finished reading The Happiness Project … what a beautiful read.  A queue awaits the dog-eared pages and I’ve since moved on to Bounce; another fantastic read that will appeal to anyone who loves sport, particularly any ‘gene believers’ out there … and anyone who grew up being constantly nagged by their mums and dads to practice, practice, practice … (in my case, piano and swimming training pertained in the Leckie household!)

The author, Matthew Syed, an international table-tennis champion, basically takes the reader on a revelatory exploration of the true nature of talent.

Can we really ALL be the best? Is talent all a myth?  Does becoming brilliant at something simply boil down to the power of practice?

Syed debunks many cherished myths … that we can be born brilliant, that we are restricted by our genetic make-up and that social background matters. He confronts the differences between ability and talent and in doing so, gets to the root of why some succeed and others remain mediocre.

He looks at how the perception of experienced sports performers differ from a laymen’s perception in their area, explains with crystal clear clarity the difference between effective and ineffective practice and studies child prodigies from Mozart to the Williams sisters.

He also makes some thought-provoking discoveries, including the impact on performance of intense religious belief, why athletes and others ‘choke’ and how a Hungarian man turned his daughters into three of the best chess players in history.

The overall premise is that with sufficient training, anyone can be what they want to be … all you need is 10,000 hours of purposeful practice. 10,000 hours means the difference between success and non-success, genius and mediocrity. You may remember the exact same argument in Gladwell’s book, Outliers.

Finally he goes into great detail about the power of belief. As sports people, to be optimally effective, we must believe in ourselves, believe we can win, yet at the same time, remain relaxed and not fold under pressure.  He calls this ‘doublethink’ … I guess it boils down to having the correct mindset and realising that sometimes we need to have contradictory mindsets at the same time.

I’ve not even finished the book yet but already am raving about it.  It’s entertaining and positive.  It reveals how we can ALL be exceptional and does so with a gentle yet persuasive style. And it’s so thought-provoking that it’s probably not a great idea that I keep starting to read it at bed time …

Finally, talking of books, mOre café, a regular haunt of mine, are starting a second-hand book exchange.  They’re collecting at the moment before the exchange begins so if you pop in with a stash of your past reads, you can give them a new home in exchange for a gratis coffee & cake, lunch-time munch or Friday brunch, depending on how many you give. See you there?!

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