Sunday, January 24, 2010

Colvin: Talent Is Overrated


Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
by Geoff Colvin (2008, 206 p.) provides a nice compliment to The Talent Code (item #6). In sum, both books argue that talent comes from deliberate practice. Effort, in terms of meaningful practice, much more that genes, creates skillful performers. Colvin, like Coyle, focuses on some of the most skillful performers. Colvin describes NFL receiver Jerry Rice and Tiger Woods. (Note the publication date of 2008. We're talking strictly golf). He also discusses Mozart, among others. The overriding point: the amount of time spent in dedicated practice, even for a supposed prodigy like Mozart, provides the key to ultimate success in a field of performance. Colvin talks about all of the tangents of this issue: how to raise kids, applications of business, whether old people can still learn and perform (yes). He notes that Arthur Rubenstein, the great pianist who performed into his 89th year, slowed down in many areas, but last of all in his piano-playing skill. In fact, Rubenstein began to perform some sections slower in order to give the perception of increased speed in following sections when he couldn't perform them as fast as he used to. Old folks can be clever! Overall, a quick, entertaining read. The lesson of this books and Coyle's book may be summed up in the old Beatnik joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? "Practice, man, practice." A book for teachers, coaches, and parents to share with students.

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