Motivation appears to be a more important factor than innate ability in the development of expertise. It is no accident that in music, chess and sports - all domains in which expertise is defined by competitive performance rather than academic credentialing - professionalism has been emerging at ever younger ages, under the ministrations of increasingly dedicated parents and even extended families...This insight seems to show up in other unrelated texts. In Good to Great, Jim Collins say great companies have an intense focus he calls the Hedgehog Effect. Two of three questions he proposes pondering to identify this intense focus clearly relate best-in-the-world expertise with passionate dedication.
Teachers in sports, music and other fields tend to believe that talent matters and that they know it when they see it. In fact, they appear to be confusing ability with precocity...
The preponderance of psychological evidence indicates that experts are made, not born. What is more, the demonstrated ability to turn a child into an expert - in chess, music, and a host of other subjects - sets a clear challenge before the schools. Can educators find ways to encourage students to engage in the kind of effortful study that will improve their reading and math skills [or any other skills for that matter]?
* What you can be the best in the world at?
* What you are deeply passionate about?
* What best drives your economic or resource engine?
The insight about experts also matches up with conclusions in the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
For those of you like me who aren't protégés, it's comforting that there's hope for us if we're just willing to dedicate ourselves to being exceptional. We're not really going to dedicate ourselves to that kind of intense focus, but at least we can day dream about it.