There is a widespread perception that highly talented people may not work hard to get results; or even not work at all.
Is this true? Is it always true?
Now let me tell you something that, at least partially, surprised me.
In the early 1990s, psychologist K. Andeers Ericsson and two colleagues completed a research at the Berlin Academy of Music; the project aimed to clarify what role training plays in the development of a person we consider an expert in a given discipline, that is, a person who achieved results acknowledged as non-ordinary.
The research was focused on violin students, whom Ericsson and co’ divided into three groups:
- those who had a chance to become internationally renowned soloists;
- the “simply good” violinists;
- those who had little chance of playing at a competitive level and intended to teach music in public schools.
All violinists were asked the same question:
How many hours have you practised over your career, since you started playing the violin?
Here are, in summary, the results:
- they all had started playing at age 5;
- up to the age of 8, everyone played 2-3 hours per week;
- from the age of 8, those who would end up excelling began to work harder: 6 hours a week at age 9, 8 hours at age 12, 16 hours at age 14, and then more and more, until they exceeded 30 hours a week at age 20;
- by the age of 20, the best students had reached 10,000 hours of practice, the “good” ones 8,000 and only 4,000 the future teachers.
The research revealed other interesting points:
- they did not find a single musician who had achieved excellence in less time than peers of comparable ability;
- nor did the researchers find anyone who, lacking the talent needed to excel, had worked harder than his/her peers;
- if a musician is talented enough to be admitted to one of the best schools, it is the commitment that can make him emerge;
- those who reach standards of excellence do not work harder than others but much, much harder than others.
talent is an essential condition
but it leads to excellence only if we are willing to work hard.
If you want to know more about the relationship between talent and training you can read the book Outliers (from which I picked up the research), which I recommend to everyone.
Particularly to parents!
Did you find the article interesting?
Do you still think that people who are rich in talent can work very little to achieve success, or not work at all?