A theory Malcolm Gladwell popularized in Outliers—that 10,000 hours of practice can turn anyone into an expert—probably isn’t true, a new study says.
“Practice is great! But practice alone won’t make you Yo Yo Ma.”
“Setting big goals is exciting, but starting with small boring goals is more likely to lead to success.”
“It takes 66 days until an action becomes something you do without thinking.”
- On average, an action becomes an “automatic” habit after 66 days of doing.
- The subconscious mind rebels against big changes, but you can woo it with gradual shifts.
- The more familiar a task is, the less scary it is.
“People think I have a lot of discipline because I danced every day for 365 days in a row. But the truth is, I have no discipline. I never did anything else for 365 days before. Dance was different because I loved it the most. When you find something you’re truly passionate about, it will prioritize itself.”
A new way to think about mistakes will both help you stop making them, and change the way you feel about them.
The author contrasts the “error model” of performance with the “bug model.” In the error model, your performance on a piece of music or a test is thought of as a perfect performance with randomness errors. With that conception, improvement means lowering your error rate. (Sound familiar?) And with this model, your performance is graded by your accuracy.
Then there’s the bug model: When you’re taking a test you’re executing a program. Since the program is deterministic, a bug will create consistent errors across a class of problems. As such, a percentage doesn’t really capture the accuracy of a program; fixing a tiny bug can turn everything being wrong to everything being right. The key, then, is to isolate the bug.
"Once you start to think of mistakes as deterministic rather than random, as caused by "bugs" (incorrect understanding or incorrect procedures) rather than random inaccuracy, a curious thing happens," she writes. "You stop thinking of people as ‘stupid.’"
And here’s more on this subject:
[Image: Flickr user Scallop Holden]