Becoming Great

There are some aspects of our lives that we are more gifted in and others that we have a hard time becoming good at. Some people believe that skills are external and you have little control over it because you are born with your abilities. Others believe skills are internal and you can mold your own destiny. Which do you believe?

It has been shown that children should be raised to learn that results are internal rather than external. For example, if your child does well in school, you do not tell them. “Wow you did so well on this test, you must be naturally gifted.” Being naturally gifted is an external circumstance and assumes that they can not change who they are. Whereas, telling them “Wow, you did so well on this test, you must have put a lot of time and effort into studying”, is an internal circumstance because they can control how much they study and as a result, how well they do.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of the 10,000 hour rule which states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become great at anything. The interesting thing about this thought is not only the magnitude of that number, but also the fact that nobody can become great alone. The child prodigy who starts playing violin at age 6 and becomes great by age 16 does not do so alone. It does not take into account the sacrifices the parents have to make to take them to practice, to make them food, to wash their clothes. All these things would take time away from their practice is taken on by someone else on their team just so that the child can focus specifically on music. We do not become great at anything on our own.

Over time, we have also become better at everything that we do. Just a few decades again, running a 3 hour marathon was an Olympic record. Now, High schoolers are running those times and the fastest marathon time is hovering at just above 2 hours. that’s almost a WHOLE HOUR faster. Does this mean we are evolving as a species? A Little, but the truth of the matter is that we have learned how to learn. We pick up techniques from people in the past and practice them over and over and become great. You don’t need to be naturally gifted, you just need to be dedicated. Practice makes perfect. No. Practice makes permanence.

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