In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell said that 10,000 hours of practice will lead to great success. Seems like a long time to spend on something, right?
Now researchers in the Psychological Science journal say practice doesn’t make perfect – it only accounts for 26% of being great at games, 21% of being great at music, and 18% of being great at sports. Being great at your job? Practice means less than 1%!
It’s the old nature vs. nurture debate – sometimes you’re naturally good at something and sometimes you’re destined to be mediocre no matter how hard you try.
Look at famous guitarists like former Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante, whose drug-induced spiral in the mid-90s caused him to almost lose his ability to play completely. When he returned to the band in 1998 he wrote some of his most beautifully simple riffs ever for Californication.
Or U2‘s The Edge, who once said, “I wasn’t particularly interested in practicing. You can do the same things over and over every day and eventually you’re sounding like everybody else. What I try to do is to challenge myself by creating a new set of tools to work with. Effects played a major part of it.”
It’s not what your music teacher would want you to hear, but practice can only take you so far – find something you have a knack for and run with that instead.
(Main image: Chris Sansenbach)