Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is a book about why some people are more successful than others. It emphasizes more about different possible reasons that contribute to people's success and less about what those people are like. The reason we loved this book is that it focuses on the process or the journey to becoming successful rather than just the output. We can't help but share a few thoughts from this book that might be useful for musicians.
One of the success formulae that the book mentions is the 10,000-hour rule. Here are some quotes that emphasize the importance of this formula:
"The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which a true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
Mozart actually 'developed late,' since he didn't produce his greatest work until he had been composing for more than 20 years.
10,000 hours is an enormous amount of time. It's all but impossible to reach that number all by yourself by the time you're a young adult. You have to have parents who encourage and support you. You can't be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won't be time left in the day to practice enough. In fact, most people can reach that number only if they get into some kind of special program or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours.
10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness. Intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated."
Another important thing the book mentions is the ritual of practice. Here are some quotes that emphasize this point.
"Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much, harder.
Practice isn't the thing that you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good."
Lastly, the book mentions the importance of having a good support system and 'right' opportunities at the 'right' time. Here are some quotes that emphasize this point.
"Bill Joy was brilliant. He wanted to learn. That was a big part of it. But before he could become an expert, someone had to give him the opportunity to learn how to be an expert.
All the outliers are the beneficiaries of some kind of unusual opportunity. Lucky breaks don't seem like the exception with software billionaires and rock bands and star athletes. They seem like the rule.
We pretend that success is exclusively a matter of individual merit. The stories are about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Their success was not just of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up."
In summary, 'Outliers' offers a collective consolation to those who think they don't have it in them and also, offers a few lessons for the less motivated individuals to take necessary action. Buy the book here.
However, the 10k hour rule may not create a difference in all professions. Read more here.
The Spark also, emphasizes on discipline and forming habits using Cirque De Soleil as an example.
For a tighter show, the audience should not think about the hard work that goes into it. To look natural, it takes a lot of discipline. However, sometimes, when we fall into a routine, we may no longer bring all our intuition, senses, and complete attention to what we do. At Cirque, it comes with a huge price.
The greatest danger is not failing but getting comfortable, of reaching a certain altitude and putting the show on autopilot.
Therefore, to revive creativity, it helps to experiment, make mistakes and discover where the artists' personality meets their characters'. This can be achieved through makeup that helps reveal an artists' identity, unlike a mask. They also, mix the performers up with other external artistic groups during their tours and organize workshops. And, sometimes, it's just a matter of remembering where the journey began.
We want our artists to become interested in the process, because 'just following the book' is not enough. It is the difference between merely hitting the right notes on the piano and actually playing the song, with your whole heart, letting it flow out of you.
All that said, there is no substitute for hard work.
Analyzing humor is like trying to dissect a frog. You can do it, but the frog tends to die in the process. If you wait for your muse to arrive to give you inspiration, you can wait all day and have nothing to show for it. - Mark Twain
Everybody is creative, and everybody is talented. I just don't think everybody is disciplined. - Hirschfield, the cartoonist.
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