The next Broken Spines bout is on “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Basically Gladwell debunks the myth that great people are innately smarter or more capable than the rest of us. He references research that shows that 10,000 hours of practice are necessary before mastering anything.
David Brooks writes in his column this morning that this research has been conducted by people like K. Anders Ericsson, the late Benjamin Bloom and others. And he recommends two new books: “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle; and “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin. Brooks writes:
Coyle and Colvin describe dozens of experiments fleshing out this process. This research takes some of the magic out of great achievement. But it underlines a fact that is often neglected. Public discussion is smitten by genetics and what we’re “hard-wired” to do. And it’s true that genes place a leash on our capacities. But the brain is also phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behavior. As Coyle observes, it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.
Incidentally, David Brooks is speaking at the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall next Tuesday.