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  • I'd like to talk about the development of human potential, and I'd like to start with maybe the most impactful modern story of development.

  • Many of you here have probably heard of the 10,000 hours rule.

  • Maybe you even model your own life after it.

  • Basically, it's the idea that to become great in anything takes 10,000 hours of focus practice, so you'd better get started as early as possible.

  • The poster child for this story is Tiger Woods.

  • Father famously gave him a putter when he was seven months old.

  • At 10 months, he started imitating his father's.

  • Swing it to you.

  • Go on YouTube and see him on national television.

  • Fast forward to the age of 21.

  • He's the greatest golfer in the world.

  • Quintessential $10,000 story, Another that features a number of best selling books is that of the three Polgar sisters, whose father decided to teach them chess in a very technical manner from a very early age.

  • And really, he wanted to show that with a head start in focus practice, any child could become a genius in anything, and in fact, two of his daughters went on to become grandmaster chess players.

  • So when I became the science writer at Sports Illustrated magazine, I got curious.

  • If this 10,000 hours rules correct, then we should see that elite athletes get a head start in so called deliberate practice.

  • This is coached air correction, focus, practice, not just playing around.

  • And in fact, when scientists study elite athletes, they see that they spend more time and delivered practice.

  • Not a big surprise, but they actually, when they actually track athletes over the course of their development, the pattern looks like this.

  • The future elites actually spend less time early on in deliberate practice in their eventual sport, they tend to have what scientists call a sampling period where they try a variety of physical activities.

  • They gain broad general skills.

  • They learned about their interests and abilities and delay specializing until later than peers who plateau at lower levels.

  • And so when I saw that said, Gosh, that doesn't really comport with the 10,000 hours rule, does it?

  • So I started to wonder about other domains that we associate with obligatory early specialization like music.

  • Turns out the patterns often similar.

  • This is research from a world class Music Academy, and what I want to draw your attention to is this.

  • The exceptional musicians didn't start spending more time and deliver practice than the average musicians until their third instrument.

  • They, too, tended to have a sampling period.

  • Even musicians.

  • We think of this famously precocious like Yo yo ma.

  • He had a sampling period.

  • He just went through it more rapidly than most musicians.

  • D'oh!

  • Nonetheless, this research is almost entirely ignored, and much more impactful is the first page of the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where the author recounts assigning her daughter violin.

  • Nobody seems to remember the part later in the book where her daughter turns to her and says, You picked it, not me and largely quits.

  • So I think, seen this sort of surprising pattern in sports and music.

  • I started to wonder about domains that affect even more people like education.

  • An economist found a natural experiment in the Higher Ed Systems of England and Scotland.

  • In the period he studied.

  • The systems were very similar, except in England.

  • Students had to specialize in their mid teen years to pick a specific course of study to apply tours in Scotland.

  • They could keep trying things in university if they wanted to.

  • And his question was, Who wins the trade off the early or the late?

  • Specialize er's.

  • And what he saw was that the early Specializes jump out to an income lied because they have more domain specific skills.

  • The Late Specializes get to try more different things, and when they do pick, they have better fit or what economists call match quality.

  • And so their growth rates are faster.

  • By six years out, they erase that income gap.

  • Meanwhile, the early specialize er's start quitting their career tracks in much higher numbers, essentially because they were made to choose so early that they more often made poor choices.

  • So the late specializes losing the short term and win in the long run.

  • I think if we thought about career choice like dating, we might not pressure people to settle down quite so quickly.

  • So this got me interested seeing this pattern again in exploring the developmental backgrounds of people whose work I had long admired, like Duke Ellington, who shunned music lessons as a kid to focus on baseball and painting and drawing, or Mari Amir's Akani, who wasn't interested in math as a girl, dreamed of becoming a novelist and went on to become the first and so far only woman to win the field's medal, the most prestigious prize in the world.

  • In math, Vincent van Gogh had five different careers, each of which he deemed his true calling before flaming out spectacularly and in his late twenties picked up a book called The Guide to the A.

  • B.

  • C's of Drawing That worked out okay.

  • Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer at the University of Michigan who took a philosophy course just to fulfill a requirement, and in it he learned about a near century old system of logic that was true, and false statements could be coded as ones and zeros and solved like math problems.

  • This led to the development of binary code, which underlies all of our digital computers today.

  • Finally, my own sort of role model, Francis Hesselboe and this is me with her.

  • She took her first professional job at the age of 54 went on to become the CEO of the Girl Scouts, which she saved.

  • She tripled minority membership, added 130,000 volunteers and This is one of the proficiency badges that came out of her tenure.

  • It's binary code for girls learning about computers.

  • Today, Francis runs a leadership institute where she works every week day in Manhattan and she's only 104.

  • So who knows what's next?

  • We never really hear developmental stories like this, do we?

  • We don't hear about the research that found a Nobel laureate.

  • Scientists are 22 times more likely to have a hobby outside of work.

  • As our typical scientists.

  • We never hear that even when the performers of the work is very famous, we don't hear these developmental stories.

  • For example, here's an athlete I've followed here.

  • He is at age six, wearing a Scottish rugby kit.

  • Now he tried some tennis, some skiing, wrestling.

  • His mother was actually a tennis coach, but she declined to coach him because he wouldn't return balls.

  • Normally, he did some basketball table tennis, swimming.

  • When his coaches wanted to move him up a level to play with older boys.

  • He declined because he just wanted to talk about pro wrestling after practice with his friends and he kept trying more sports handball, volleyball, soccer, badminton, skateboarding So who is this dabbler?

  • This is Roger Federer, every bit as famous as an adult as Tiger Woods.

  • And yet even tennis enthusiasts don't usually know anything about his developmental story.

  • Why is that?

  • Even though it's the norm, I think it's partly because the Tiger story is very dramatic, but also because it seems like this tidy narrative that we can extrapolate to anything that we want to be good at in our own lives.

  • But that, I think, is a problem, because it turns out that in many ways, golf is a uniquely horrible model of almost everything that humans want to learn.

  • Golf is the epitome of what the psychologist Robin Hogarth called a kind learning environment.

  • Kind learning environments have next steps and goals that are clear rules that are clear and never change.

  • When you do something to get feedback that is quick and accurate work.

  • Next year, we'll look like work last year.

  • Chess, also a kind learning environment.

  • The grandmasters advantage is largely based on knowledge of recurring patterns, which is also why it's so easy to automate.

  • On the other end of the spectrum are wicked learning environments where next steps and goals may not be clear, rules may change.

  • You may or may not get feedback.

  • When you do something, it may be delayed.

  • It may be inaccurate.

  • And work next year may not look like work last year.

  • So which one of these sounds like the world were increasingly living in?

  • In fact, our need to think in an adaptable manner and to keep track of interconnecting parts has fundamentally changed our perception, so that when you look at this diagram, the central circle on the right probably looks larger to you because your brain is drawn to the relationship of the parts in the hole where someone who hasn't been exposed to modern work with its requirement for adaptable conceptual thought, we'll see correctly that the central circles are the same size.

  • So here we are in the wicked work world, and they're sometimes hyper specialization can backfire badly.

  • For example, in research in a dozen countries that matched people for their parents, years of education, their test scores, their own years of education.

  • The difference was some got career focused education, and some got broader general education.

  • The pattern was those who got the career focused education are more likely to be hired right out of training, more likely to make more money right away, but so much less adaptable in a changing work world that they spend so much less time in the workforce overall, that they win in the short term and lose in the long run.

  • Or consider a famous 20 year study of experts making geopolitical and economic predictions.

  • The worst forecasters were the most specialized experts, those who spent their entire careers studying one or two problems and came to see the whole world through one lens or mental model.

  • Some of them actually got worse.

  • As the accumulated experience and credentials, the best forecasters were simply bright people with wide ranging interests.

  • Now, in some domains like medicine, increasing specialization has been both inevitable and beneficial.

  • No question about it.

  • And yet it's been a double edged sword.

  • A few years ago, one of the most popular surgeries in the world for knee pain was testing a placebo controlled trial.

  • Some of the patients got sham surgery.

  • That means the surgeons make an incision.

  • They bang around like they're doing something.

  • Then they sew the patient back up that performed Justus well, and yet surgeons who specialize in the procedure continue to do it by the millions.

  • So if hyper specialization isn't always the trick in a wicked world, what ISS?

  • That could be difficult to talk about because it doesn't always look like this path.

  • Sometimes it looks like meandering or zigzagging er, keeping a broader view.

  • It can look like getting behind.

  • But I want to talk about what some of those tricks might be.

  • If we look at research on technological innovation, it shows that increasingly, the most impactful patents are not authored by individuals who drill deeper, deeper, deeper into.

  • One area of technology is classified by the U.

  • S patent office, but rather by teams that include individuals who have worked across a large number of different technology classes and often merge things from different domains.

  • Someone whose work I've admired.

  • It was sort of on the forefront of this.

  • A Japanese man named Gun Pay, Yo coy Yoko didn't score well in his electronics exams at school, so we had to settle for a low tear job is a machine maintenance worker at a playing card company in Kyoto.

  • He realized he wasn't equipped to work on the cutting edge.

  • But there was so much information easily available that maybe he could combine things that were already well known in ways that specialists were too narrow to see.

  • So he combined some well known technology from the calculator industry with some well known technology from the credit card industry and made handheld games.

  • And they were hit.

  • And it turned this playing card company, which was founded in a wooden storefront in the 19th century, into a toy and game operation.

  • You may have heard of it.

  • It's called a Nintendo.

  • Yoko's creative philosophy translated toe lateral thinking with withered technology, taking well known technology and using it in new ways.

  • And his magnum opus Was this the Gameboy technological joke in every way.

  • And it came out at the same time as color competitors from Sega and Atari, and it blew them away because your coin knew what his customers cared about wasn't color.

  • It was durability, portability, affordability, battery life, game selection.

  • This is mine that I found in my parents basement, seen better days, but you can see the red light is on.

  • I flipped it on and played some Tetris, which I thought was especially impressive because the batteries had expired in 2007 in 2013.

  • So this breath advantage holds in more subjective realms as well.

  • In a fascinating study of what leads some comic book creators to be more likely to make blockbuster comics, a pair of researchers found that it was neither the number of years of experience in the field nor the resource is of the publisher nor the number of previous comics made.

  • It was the number of different genres that a creator had worked across and, interestingly, abroad individual could not be entirely replaced by a team of specialists.

  • We probably don't make as many of those people as we could, because early on they just look like they're behind.

  • And we don't tend to incentivize anything that doesn't look like a head start or specialization.

  • In fact, I think in the well meaning drive for a head start, we often even counterproductive Lee short circuit, even the way we learn new material at a fundamental level.

  • In study last year, seventh grade math class rooms in the U.

  • S.

  • Were randomly assigned to different types of learning.

  • Some got what's called blocked practice.

  • That's like you get problem Type A, A, A B, B, B, B B, and so on.

  • Progress is fast, kids.

  • They're happy.

  • Everything's great.

  • Other classrooms got assigned toe what's called inter leaved practice.

  • That's like if you took all the problem types and threw them in a hat and drew them out at random.

  • Progress is slower.

  • Kids are more frustrated.

  • But instead of learning how to execute procedures, they're learning how to match a strategy to a type of problem.

  • And when the test comes around, the Inter leave group blew the block.

  • Practice group away wasn't even close now.

  • I found a lot of this research deeply counterintuitive.

  • The idea that a head start, whether in picking a career or a course of study or just in learning new material, can sometimes undermine long term development.

  • And naturally, I think there are as many ways to succeed as there are people.

  • But I think we tend on Lee to incentivize and encourage the tiger path when increasingly in a wicked world, we need people who travel the Roger path as well.

  • Or is the eminent physicist and mathematician and wonderful writer Freeman Dyson put it and keep Dyson passed away yesterday.

  • So I hope I'm doing his words honor here.

  • As he said, For a healthy ecosystem, we need both birds and frogs, frogs air down in the mud.

  • Seeing all the granular details.

  • The birds are soaring up above not seeing those details but integrating the knowledge of the frogs.

  • And we need both.

  • The problem, Dyson said, is that we're telling everyone to become frogs, and I think in a wicked world that's increasingly short sighted, thank you very much.

I'd like to talk about the development of human potential, and I'd like to start with maybe the most impactful modern story of development.

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B1 practice specialization head start learning wicked developmental

How Falling Behind Can Get You Ahead | David Epstein | TEDxManchester

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/04
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