Gladwell studied people who are eminent in their fields- musicians, athletes, CEO's, etc.
What he found in common was hard work and practice.
We often think of talent falling from the sky...it doesn't. Good grades, fall from the sky too, right? Maybe, if you are unchallenged. That is why so many of our brightest students get the shock of their lives when they get accepted into the top ranked university of their dreams and have to study for the first time in their lives.
They are surrounded by top notch students with stellar SAT scores in most of their classes.
What separates the "big boys"? Practice! and lots of it... 10,000 hours to be exact. Let's put that into perspective.
If you can put in 3 hours a night 5 days a week, you’ll be at 10,000 hours in less than 10 years.
Mozart, yes that Mozart, was influenced (possibly forced by his father) to learn and perform music starting at the age of 3. He got his 10,000 hours in before becoming a teenager.
How about golf legend Tiger Woods? After team practice in high school, he would stay after and hit an extra 200 balls. That is 1,000 extra attempts at perfect practice each week. Think in terms of months, then years.
Extraordinary talent comes from opportunities as well.
Tiger Woods' father was a golf enthusiast.
Bill Gates went to an exclusive private school that had a computer lab and dial up connection when these things were both rare and expensive and lived near UW, where he and his best friend would sneak into the computer lab at night for extra practice.
There is a difference between intelligence and achievement. Intelligence can go unnoticed and uncultivated. It can stagnate if not exercised and challenged.
Achievement, according to Gladwell, is a group effort. It comes from opportunities, encouragment and being at the right place at the right time (sometimes the right era) and a lot of focused and sustained effort.
I recommend this book. It gave me a lot to think about and makes for really good conversation.