Kathy Sierra on "How to be an expert"

[Edited to add a terrific example a the bottom of this post.]

On March 3 of 2006, Kathy Sierra wrote this terrific piece on "How to be an expert." (Which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.)

I love this chart that she made:

Favourite quotes from the article:

  • It turns out that rather than being naturally gifted at music or math or chess or whatever, a superior performer most likely has a gift for concentration, dedication, and a simple desire to keep getting better. In theory, again, anyone willing to do what's required to keep getting better WILL get better.
  • Maybe the "naaturally talented artist" was simply the one who practiced a hell of a lot more. Or rather, a hell of a lot more deliberately. Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, has spent most of his 20+ year career on the study of genuises, prodigies, and superior performers. In the book The New Brain (it was on my coffee table) Richard Restak quotes Ericsson as concluding:

    "For the superior performer the goal isn't just repeating the same thing again and again but achieving higher levels of control over every aspect of their performance. That's why they don't find practice boring. Each practice session they are working on doing something better than they did the last time."
  • So it's not just how long they practice, it's how they practice. Basically, it comes down to something like this:
    Most of us want to practice the things we're already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever.
  • And if the neuroscientists are right, you can create new brain cells--by learning (and not being stuck in a dull cubicle)--at virtually any age. Think about it... if you're 30 today, if you take up the guitar tomorrow, you'll have been playing for TWENTY years by the time you're 50. You'll be kicking some serious guitar butt. And if you're 50 today, there's no reason you can't be kicking guitar butt at 70. What are you waiting for?

Back to the drawing board for me!


via Neatorama:

Huang Xiaohu, a 32-year-old Chinese man trained himself to write 10 numerals simultaneously using 10 fingers.

Huang Xiaohu told to Beijing Times he acquired the special ability through countless practices. "I want to prove myself by doing something that others can’t do," he said.

"I have no special talent. I did it entirely by practicing."

If you liked this, I also posted:


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Andrea said...

This post and your last one make me think of Carol Dweck's book Mindset, which I'm going to review next week. And now I have another book to add ot my list. ;)

Lee said...

I'm looking forward to reading that review! (And in future, the review of the book you've just added to your list!)