Becoming an Expert

There’s good news for those who want to excel in their work and leisure-time activities.  A number of studies over the years have shown that “talent” is a myth, and that anyone who will practice, practice, practice, can become an expert virtuoso in any pursuit.  Those who say, “I’m not good at ——” (fill in the blank) bring a negative attitude to the task and they have simply not practiced enough.

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These studies looked at a wide range of pursuits from music to sports to chess to, and to the professions that require “expert” knowledge such as medicine and law.  They could find no direct correlation to age, I.Q., gender, and several other variables for most pursuits.  In athletic pursuits, researchers have found that age, body size, and gender significant, but only because the body is the principal tool an athlete uses.  For most other pursuits, it’s the mind that counts, and its capacities can always be improved (barring brain injury or other mental incapacity) through focused and frequent practice over time.

Here’s an excellent article from the Harvard Business Review on the “Making of an Expert” (appears in a new window or tab):  HBR Article