Michael Shermer, in a recent interview (by Suzy Hansen in Salon [1]) comments:

"What does it take to be a creative genius and reach the top of your field? First of all, there's a minimal 10,000-hour rule. If you want to master a sport or a skill or a subject, that comes out to about 60 hours per week for about three and a half years. That's true in all professions. It doesn't mean you'll make it. Good biology and genes help. But look at Mozart. He didn't just plop out of nowhere as some people think. He had the father and the training and did the 10,000 hours when he was 6, rather than 26, when most of us find our way in life. Earlier devotion, of course, does help the genius to come out."

Good rule of thumb ... and it correlates with a cute story from magician John Scarne's autobiography (repeated in several of Scarne's books ... see [2]) of how he learned to cut to the aces in a deck of cards:

They had me repeat this feat about twenty times and I finally said to Rothstein, "If you do the same thing for three or four hours a day you'll be able to do it too, in about twenty years." I wasn't trying to be smart but they had asked me a question and I was trying to give them an answer as best I could.

"And how old are you?" someone asked rather skeptically.

"I'm nineteen," I replied matter-of-factly.

His rejoinder was quick in coming as he said, "You're nineteen and you practiced twenty years!"

"No," I replied. "But I practice ten hours a day."

(see SelfReliance (16 Jun 1999), BookHouses (14 Dec 1999), LearningInvestment (11 Feb 2000), ExpertiseAndScience (21 Feb 2001), ... )

TopicThinking - 2001-09-20

(correlates: TheNewTwenty, UnimaginableTimelessness, Comments on Bend Sinister, ...)