What it Takes to be Great

“Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work.”

David Brooks, in his article “Genius: the Modern View” for the NY Times recently commented on Geoff Colvin’s article “What it Takes to be Great” (and two books that have now been written with similar ideas).   All the authors make the point: that getting to be good at anything requires tons of hard work and “deliberate practice,” which they define as “the ability to develop a deliberate, strenuous and boring practice routine.”  They talk about how this type of “deliberate practice” routine seems the same for Tiger Woods, Yo Yo Ma, physics wizzes, almost anyone who wants to be good at anything.  By practicing in this way, people “delay the automatizing process.  The mind wants to turn deliberate and newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills.  But the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking skills down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance.”

The argument applies to anything we do, any kind of work, including designing architecture.  In the wake of recent studio reviews, and thesis issues, it struck me as relevant.

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