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The world’s top performers prove talent has nothing to do with success

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the role of belief and deliberate practice in developing exceptional skills and talents, using the example of Gunder Hägg, a world-class middle-distance runner in the 1940s.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The Myth of Natural Talent

1. What is the main point about the relationship between early success and ultimate success?

  • There is very little connection between a person's early success and their ultimate success. Children who are better than their peers in the early stages of learning a skill are not guaranteed to succeed as adults.

2. What is the story of Gunder Hägg's early running performance?

  • Gunder Hägg's father exaggerated his son's running time when Hägg was a teenager, telling him he had run a 1,500-meter course in 4 minutes and 50 seconds, when his actual time was 5 minutes and 50 seconds. This was done to encourage Hägg, who had lost his passion for running.

3. How does the phenomenon with Hägg and other superior performers relate to the placebo effect?

  • The phenomenon is similar to the placebo effect, where convincing a child they have a special talent increases the odds they will actually grow up to be exceptional. However, unlike the placebo effect, developing someone's belief in their own talent requires years of hard work and practice.

[02] The Power of Deliberate Practice

1. What is the key to developing exceptional skills and talents, according to the article?

  • Deliberate practice, which is teacher-directed and focused on incremental advances, is the key to developing exceptional skills and talents, not innate talent.

2. What role do parents play in the development of their child's talents?

  • Parents who believe a child is gifted will work to find a suitable teacher and encourage the child's practice. The child, feeling special, then works hard to improve, and the initial observation of "natural talent" seems to be borne out.

3. Why is it important to spread the message that deliberate practice can help anyone develop incredible abilities?

  • Most children could benefit from deliberate practice, but only a small percentage of parents are willing to commit to this level of development. Spreading the message that dramatic improvement is possible through deliberate practice could open up a world of opportunity for many more people.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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