Friday, April 3, 2009

The Magic Number to Genius

Remember the Working Hard Working Smart post of a few days ago? I had maintained that Working Smart does not replace Working Hard. Rather these are complementary.

Now here's a confirmation of my thinking. This is an extract from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

       The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

       "The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert - in anything,' writes the neurologist Daniel Levintin. "In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that is needs to know to achieve true mastery."

This also confirms my assertion that hopping from job to job is actually bad for long term career growth. Engineers in my company are quite sick and tired of hearing this from me, but this is what I believe in: Do not leave a job unless you feel you have nothing more to learn from there. The smart thing to do is quickly determine what you enjoy doing most and then apply yourself to the job for at least 10,000 actual hours.

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Yogeesh said...
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Yogeesh said...

I completely agree with you. But, in real world it doesn't require somebody to be genius to grow up the ladder. You just need to have common sense or just plain luck. Example, few of my colleagues were promoted as Managers long ago during re-organization, who are just older to me by 1 year and I am still stuck in the same position. They still consult me for critical technical issues! Genius-ness hardly matters, it may just give some kind of publicity or respect.

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