Practice doesn't make perfect

This idea is a nice one, because it suggests that successful people earned their expertise, and that many people have a shot at becoming successful if they work hard enough. It gained especially wide attention through a rule it inspired in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: that to become really, really good at something, you have to intensely practice at it for around 10,000 hours, the "10,000-hour rule."

But this is an area of active dispute among psychologists — and over the years, dozens of studies have collected hard data on the link between practice and top performance in all sorts of fields. A new statistical analysis of 88 of these studies comes to the exact opposite conclusion: success mostly reflects other factors (probably things like innate talent and opportunity) rather than hours and hours of practice.

I find studies like this one especially seductive as I'm a red-blooded contrarian.  Accordingly, I find myself having to consciously increase my skepticism about them as I like the results so much.

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Life isn’t fair: the people who practice the most aren’t the most successful
The importance of practice is a nice idea, but it’s a false one.

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  1. Opportunity I'd say. Seriously, it pays to be in right place at the right time..

    But just like lottery, you have to buy a ticket to win…

  2. You're a contrarian being contrary to the guy who wrote "Everything You Know is Wrong"? Why can't we all just get along? But anything that contradicts Gladwell goes in my secret stash of Schadenfreude.

  3. A number of famous golfers have been quoted as saying, "The more I practise, the luckier I get." It's got to be both; reminds me of the nature-nurture debate.