Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hours and Deep Practice.

A few years ago I read "The Talent Code."  The book prompted me to reconsider my assumptions about aptitude and practice.   I won't do it justice but the gist of the book is that talent is about hours and hours of deep practice.

It challenges deeply engrained notions about being gifted or born with a skill.  There's something really intriguing about the idea of a prodigy.  The idea that "you kind of have it or you don't" is also incredibly useful in terms of explaining our own avoidance, shortcomings and frustrations with certain types of activities.

The book reframed how I think about my own successes and failures.  The concept of deep practice was most compelling (as was the realization I am not good at it).  I take deep practice to mean allowing yourself to fail.  Fail harder.  Let go.  Feel like an asshole.  Challenge yourself, push yourself, set aside assumptions, shut up and listen.  Don't phone it in. And hours.  Lots and lots of hours.  

There's something very heartening about this approach.  I am not a stellar Cross Fitter or dancer.  The book reminds me I *could* be.  I admit I haven't given either the hours or deep practice to warrant improvement.  

All that said, a small part of me maintains that I'm just kinesthetically challenged.
As have others.  

Yes, it feels like an excuse.  
Yes, it flies in the face of a premise that I claim to embrace (and has decent empirical support).

After six days of skiing, I call shenanigans.  On myself.

You can't be kinesthetically challenged and successfully negotiate your movement through racing gates, moguls and significant changes in equipment (straight to carved).  I'm still riding the high of how masterful I felt on the mountain last week.

I can't remember not knowing how to ski.  I started very young and skied a lot. Then raced a lot.  Hours.  I trained.  I practiced.  On one ski.  With no poles.  Drills.  I messed around a lot too (tried random shit) and when I add it all up I'm calling it deep practice.

So, "Talent Code" this is why I chose you when I gazed at the book selection in the lab.  Let's catch up.

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