Practice, not talent, is the key to success

Practice, not talent, is the key to success

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

I believe that Einstein had been more than passionately curious as he said. In one of his other quotes, he humbly said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” According to Wikipedia, “Einstein published more than 300 scientific works and more than 150 non-scientific works.” It was no surprise that he was named ‘Person of the Century’ in 1999 Time magazine and his name is synonymous with genius. What do you think contributed to his phenomenal success? I personally feel that curiosity and a focus unwavering mind, coupled with a lot of hard work were the foundation to his success.

In a newspaper report today, K Ranga Krishnan cited the example of top athletes spending their lives trying to perfect their craft and looking to gain every possible physical and mental advantage over their opponents. As what he said, “They (athletes) exemplify the credo that hard work leads to rewards.” As the saying goes, “Practice makes better.” This is true for Michael Jordan. For over a decade, he was the face of the NBA. But did you know that he did not make it to the basketball team during Junior high school? He was 5’10” and his teammate, Leroy Smith, who was 6’5″ made it. And according to ACESHOWBIZ, “After the refusal Michael even got a worse “look down” from the team members that eventually made him woke up from the desperation.” He started going to the gym to practice. He was at that time practicing every day after school with his brother Larry. The every day practice had shot Michael up from 5’10” to 6’3″ in his sophomore and junior year.

In, “… his father James later noted, “What he does have is a competition problem. He was born with that … the person he tries to outdo most of the time is himself.” What is the key to success for Jordan? Quoting Jordan, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I believe no one can deny that the spirit of never giving up and hard work have made him the greatest basketball player of all-time.

Practice, not intelligence alone, is true not just in sports, but also in other areas in life. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule which contributed to the success of many. In Outliers, Gladwell compares between elite violinists and future music teachers and it was found that by the age of twenty, the elite violinists had each totaled ten thousand hours of practice where else by contrast, the future music teachers had totaled just over four thousand hours. Similar pattern was observed between amateur pianists and professional pianists. The neurologist Daniel Levitin wrote, “The emerging picture from 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.”

It seems pretty obvious that innate talent alone only gets you so far. Beyond that, we have to have the unwavering focus and hard work just like Einstein and Jordan. In fact for everyone who is considered an expert in their respective fields, they have worked hard and have gone the extra mile. Do you want to excel in your field or in any area in your life? Practice.

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