Forgive the irony, but sometimes you’ve got to grab a cliché with both hands. In Brain Pickings Weekly recently, they summarised the findings of Daniel Goleman in his book The Hidden Driver of Excellence. In short, he concludes that, contrary to received wisdom, just practising a new skills for ten thousand hours isn’t enough to become a genius. It needs to be a deliberate attempt to improve, often concentrating on just one aspect at a time. (And to keep that open to feedback.) As Stanley Donen, director of Singing in the Rain has said, ‘Talent is passion for a narrow field.’
I was set to thinking about all this because of a passage in Tash Aw’s book Five Star Billionaire. One of the female characters is watching the Olympics on the TV. As the Chinese Athletes are winning all the medals, a ‘lanky blonde girl,’ has failed her first two attempts at the high jump.
Then she suddenly did something that made Phoebe shiver with excitement. For her third and final jump she asked for the bar to be raised higher than anyone had jumped so far, higher than she had attained in her whole life. She had failed at lower heights but now she was gunning for something way beyond her capabilities. She was going to jump all the way to the stars, and even if she failed she could only come down as far as the lowly position she already occupied.
What happens? Hey, read the book.
In my writing I have found that sometimes it helps to step back and think, what if?