The Talent Myth?

Branding guru John Moore (Brand Autopsy) recently pointed out two books which similarly discuss how people achieve world-class success. He says, “Both books dispel the notion that talent and intelligence are predictors of success. Both rely heavily on Anders Ericsson’s research into ‘Deliberate Practice.’” Here’s some key quotes pulled by Moore.


“The gifts possessed by the best performers are not at all what we think they are. You are not a natural-born virtuoso…because no one is” (pgs. 6, 7).

“The fact that seems to explain the most about great performance is something the researchers call deliberate practice” (pg. 7).

“Deliberate practice is hard. It hurts. But it works. More of it equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance” (pg. 7).

Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS

“Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness” (pg. 41).

“The 10,000-hours rule says that if you look at any kind of cognitively complex field…we see this incredibly consistent pattern that you cannot be good at that unless you practice for 10,000 hours, which is roughly ten years [at] four hours a day” (source).

However, you will need extraordinary opportunities in order to reach that amount of practice time.

“People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact, they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities…” (pg. 19)

Practice Makes Lethal

Great insights. Of course, my first thought went to the world of MMA. Junie Browning’s “natural talent” was painfully irrelevant as he wasted a golden opportunity for focused, intensive, deliberate practice with world-class trainers. Junie seems to have realized this, correcting his behavior and proving it on the recent TUF Finale. He was a different fighter.

I would love to see a study done on the guys in MMA who have 10,000 hours of MMA practice in world-class gyms. I’m thinking the results would be fairly obvious.

So, what are you deliberately practicing? What opportunities are you taking advantage of (or not)?
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About Eric Wilbanks

Brand strategist. Wordsmith. Change architect. Training specialist. DiSC Certified. Family guy (hot wife and 4 cool kids). Love my Bible, guitars, baseball, and MMA.


  1. Anonymous12:44 PM

    "So, what are you deliberately practicing? What opportunities are you taking advantage of (or not)?"

    Good question, Eric. I've found myself lately not writing blog posts, sending tweets, or keeping up with other social networking tools. I've become so busy, feeling like I'm stretched a little too thin to be much good in any arena of my life at the moment. I'm at a crossroads of sorts, and I need to determine what is worth my time investment. Perhaps by New Years I will have greater clarity and direction. I definitely want to be investing myself in (practicing) things that are worthwhile.

    So, what am I deliberately practicing? At present, I'm practicing waiting for and hearing God (Isaiah 30:18).

  2. "feeling like I'm stretched a little too thin..."

    Boy, do I know that feeling...and I'm not near as busy as some of my friends here in town.

    Personally, I do hope you can find time to continue Tweeting, Blogging and such. I really enjoy your input!