In “The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind” Dr Kaku reviews the vast amount of research regarding what makes a person a genius or an expert. He quotes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “The emerging picture from these studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything…In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.” Malcom Gladwell called this the “10,000” hour rule in his book, “Outliers.” I need to add that this number of hours alone will not guarantee expertise. Practice needs to be what is called deliberate practice, which is aimed at improving performance.
So what is meant by 10,000 hours? Dividing 10,000 hours by the 24 hour day rounds to 417 days. Of course, no one can study/practice for 24 hours. An 8 hour day would be about 1250 days or about 3.4 years. A more likely 4 hour day would yield about 2500 days or about 6.8 years.
Anyone willing to expend this amount effort needs to enjoy doing whatever it is, and also obviously has a growth mindset. Charles Darwin once wrote, “I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work.”
Although a growth mindset is key to a healthy memory, this growth need not be targeted at a single area. The growth can be dispersed over many interests. However, becoming expert at a particular skill or in a particular area does require sacrifices. We mere mortals are limited in terms of both time and energy.
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