Expertise

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've always been very interested in people who are really good at what they do. I recently ran across an article from a psychologist who has undertaken a great deal of study to ascertain just what it is that makes someone a world class expert. By doing long-term studies of chess players, advanced musicians, and sports players, K. Anders Ericsson found that an individual's level of expertise is in direct proportion to the number of hours of deliberate practice that individual has undergone in the given domain. Namely, he found that it takes an individual 10,000 hours and 10 years of deliberate practice to obtain world-class level of expertise.

I found the whole article intriguing. It highlights a number of trends that are indicative of all the world-class individuals. For instance, these individuals, when they practice, tend to focus on improving particular skills that they are not yet masters of, instead of just playing or doing what they already know how to do. They also tend to practice with a great deal of intensity for around five hours a day, often requiring a nap afterwords. Overall, I found the article to offer a great deal of hope as it debunks the common perception that it is the gifted or the talented who are the ones with world-class skill.

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