Genius: The Modern View

Posted by: Michael Bates on May 4, 2009 @ 7:46 am
Filed under: Michael Bates (Artist Thoughts), Michael Bates (Updates)

As someone whose talent falls very clearly into the category of only mere-mortal, I was heartened by David Brooks recent article in the New York Times where he writes about what separates genius from the very accomplished:

“The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.”

Another fascinating quote from the same article:

“….The mind wants to turn deliberate, newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills. But the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking skills down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance.”

There may be hope yet….


  1. Amen.

    “it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.”

    Comment by Jim Tuerk — May 4, 2009 @ 8:16 am

  2. Good thoughts, Michael. This reminds of Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, “Outliers.” I think it applies to musicians in a big way.

    Comment by John Goldsby — May 6, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  3. Hi John,

    That’s the second time that some has made this reference…..gotta check out that book now….hope you’re doing well….

    Comment by Michael Bates — May 6, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  4. That is a fantastic article, and one that every artist should read. If ever we needed more impetus to practice, and practice diligently, this is it!

    Thanks for the link. I’m hangin’ it in the shed!

    Comment by Jason Parker — May 19, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

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