Intelligence, effort, and talent followup links

Specifically, some followups/tangents spinning off from this post.

Some thoughts on the 10,000 hour/10 year rule that I’d thinking about as I wrote the above. Specifically, on the idea that those considered unusually brilliant in a field all tend to have one thing in common: that they’ve put in roughly the same amount of time.

Two new things this article adds to my understanding: First, that the 10,000 hour rule tends to apply to cognitive tasks more than physical ones. And second, that having 10,000 hours to put into something is a sort of privilege, and often requires outside support. Which gives clarity to the conflict between my sense that insisting “anyone can do it if they work hard enough!” was simplistic and even unfair, and my sense that most people really can do most things if they put in the time. The latter is true, but the resources to put in that time aren’t equally available to everyone.

Marissa Lingen on why while effort is worth praising, it’s also important to develop the skill of knowing when not to do your very best. Or, as she puts it, why “… figuring out what to do your best on and what to half-ass is a major adult skill.”

I have been making a lot more excellent breakfasts this summer. I have been making a lot more breakfasts that wow me. But I am also noticing the effort that takes, and even those wow breakfasts are not always new wow breakfasts. Because going the extra mile every day (or, more realistically, every time I’ve used up the previous wow breakfast) is just not possible. I am not writing a breakfast cookbook. I am not running a breakfast restaurant. Sometimes it’s a good idea to strive for just that one step better, for a variety of breakfasts that are better than just okay. But there are other things on the list, and there always will be.

In a world that values full-on intensity and all-or-nothing measures, learning that it’s okay not to go full-out at everything is valuable, too.

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