January 5, 2013

Luck Over Skill?

a. For activities with clear fixed rules - such as sports, chess and music - the only way to succeed is to put in more deliberate practice than your peers.

b. For activities with rapidly evolving rules - such as business start-ups or book writing - success comes when you CHANGE the rules to a new configuration that catches the zeitgeist just right. Johansson uses Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, as a key example. Meyer, in Johansson’s estimation, is not a good writer. Her first Twilight book reads more like fan fiction than a professionally-scribed genre novel. She had not, in other words, spent much time in a state of deliberate practice. But this didn’t matter. Something about her new take on vampire tales hit the cultural moment just right and earned her extraordinary renown. The lesson, according to Johansson, is that luck plays the central role in success for these activities. If you want to do something remarkable, therefore, you have to keep trying new things - placing, what he calls, purposeful bets - hoping to stumble into an idea that catches on.

(Source: calnewport.com)