by Vasco Duarte
It’s a romantic idea, I’ve always thought: 10.000 hours of practice and you’ll turn into a professional. Good for me, I can go on 24/7. So it’d only take me about a year and a half to become an expert, I already looked for legal ways to change my name into Happy Einstein. But it looks like that story is a myth.
Why this myth has taken root isn’t surprising; it just sounds so logical. You practice, you become better. And in the grand scheme of fairness, it just feels right, right? You do something constructive, you get rewarded. But alas, recent research shows that practice isn’t what makes us experts. Alfie Kohn wrote a great article about it called Perfect, It Turns Out, Is What Practice Doesn’t Make. One quote I like to share with you guys:
Practice explained 26 percent of the variance in achievement for games, 21 percent in musical accomplishment, 18 percent in sports, 4 percent in college grades, and less than 1 percent in professional success.Alfie Kohn
In other words: how much practice you’ll need for success depends on the domain you’re operating in. So what is it that makes us good? Well, it looks like the age you get involved into an activity plays a role. A bigger one than practice anyway. The other aspect has to do with how much you like getting involved in an activity. But wait, isn’t that…. Yes it is. Intrinsic motivation.