Is There Such A Thing As *Pure* Genius?

Three little Beatles, and an incy-wincy Bill Gates chillin' with his pc's.

Contrasting with the philosophy of the BBC’s “Who Gets The Best Jobs” a few weeks ago, where journalist Richard Bilton explored the ease in which certain areas of society have access to the higher professions – reaffirming that the best jobs are often stolen by a progressively shrinking gene pool of privileged, wealthy families.

Concluding that whilst to some extent this is sadly true, a combination of natural intelligence and hard work can often culminate in resounding success, illustrated in part by a girl who grew up with just her mum on a council estate with no money. She worked extremely hard and landed a £35k job in a law firm after her time at Nottingham University.

Malcolm Gladwell, writer for The New Yorker, on the other hand argues that a person’s background and environment is essentially irrelevant. The main concept revolves around a theory that he titles “The 10,000 Hour Rule”. “It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like. […] It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

In his case-studies he explores the reasons behind outrageously successful people like The Beatles and Bill Gates, amongst others.

The Beatles performed live every night for sometimes as long as 8 hours in Hamburg, Germany on 270 night from 1960 to 1962. “By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times, which is extraordinary. Most bands today don’t perform 1,200 times in their entire careers.” This correlates to more than 10,000 hours of playing time, easily smashing that pesky rule.

Each one of them spent intricately dedicated time performing in a bid to mould their talent into a world-class standard, thus on re-entry into England after their Hamburg stint, “they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.”

The Lennon/McCartney partnership spent just as much time writing songs, honing their song-writing skills to a standard barely touched by anyone since. Gladwell notes that the “time that elapsed between their founding and their greatest artistic achievements – arguably Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the White Album – is 10 years.” This accumulates to roughly 10,000 hours of song-writing “practice”, climaxing with their most well-written pop songs.

Bill Gates, conglomerate billionaire and founder of Microsoft, met The 10,000 Hour Rule when his high school offered him prestigious access to a computer in 1968 at the tender age of 13 when computers weren’t particularly commonplace, and of course he obsessively devoted roundabout 10,000 hours learning and executing complex programming.

Gladwell confirms that reaching the 10,000-Hour Goal, is merely a question of rehearsing a particular skill for 20 hours of work a week for roughly 10 years. He states that if somebody fails to succeed in their specialist field, it is simply because they underestimated how much practice was needed…so if you began writing songs and performing them in a band aged 15, whose to say you shouldn’t be playing Wembley by the time you’re 25.

You can read the whole article here as a lengthy extract, taken from The Guardian website. And it’s ruddy interesting!

Go on…shoo! get practising.

-James Godwin, February 22nd, 2011

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.