Friday, November 28, 2008

and parts were moved or ' derisions ' introduced

From today's 'Painters Keys' newsletter from Robert Genn:   Read it, really...
Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers, has some implications for artists. Like his other books, The Tipping Point and Blink, it's a refreshing pop-culture examination of well-worked subject matter. Outliers is about the phenomenon of success--what impedes it, and what delivers it. It seems a lot of the qualities we think are going to produce success, aren't.

Raw talent, for example, is far down the list of Gladwell's succeeding virtues. Being born in the right time and place, to the right parents is more where it's at. He's sorry, but he thinks just too many wannabees are disadvantaged from the get-go and don't really stand a chance. This kind of flies in the face of the self-made-man concept--the guy who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps against terrible odds. Gladwell cites all sorts of really bright, well-educated and naturally talented folks who never made it. 

Gladwell really gets on track when he suggests that cognitively complex pursuits require ten thousand hours to get good. Drawing on a supply of examples, the rule seems to go for champion chess players, classical music composers, brain surgeons, top hockey players and fine artists. We're talking fine artists here; those who more or less know what they're doing.

"Success has to do with deliberate practice," says Gladwell. "Practice must be focused, determined, and in an environment where there's feedback." Further, the penchant for study, reflection, application and hard work is often propelled by obsession. While obsessive behavior may be an antisocial plague to societies and communities at large, it's total moxie when lone practitioners catch it.

Natural common sense is a big factor too. "You need to have the ability to gracefully navigate the world," says Gladwell. Apparently you need the ego-force to get what you want. Moreover, no one in any significant profession can do it without the help of others. Even hard-working ten-thousand-hour obsessive-compulsive introverts have to learn to bring agents and enablers into their sphere. For some, this comes naturally, even easily; for others, particularly those in the outlier and self-starting professions, it's a long and dusty road pocked with trial and error.

Those of you who have been reading this for a long time know that this has long been my rant:  preparation, perspiration, and persistence.  None work towards success alone, and who wants to die first to find out if all that work really was OK?

"We vary greatly in the natural advantages that we've been given. The world's not fair." (Malcolm Gladwell)  


We have had a roller-coaster Thanksgiving.  Our little granddaughter is in the hospital on a ventilator recovering from swallowing a small battery.  It went undiscovered until she started suffering breathing problems after several days, but by then the acid had leaked from the battery and damage has been done to her esophagus.  We all have hope for a complete recovery but there seem to be a few setbacks for this tiny kid to overcome.  She will be in the hospital for at least a week, more likely 10 days.  Please send your good thoughts on to her and her very exhausted and scared parents.  

And a note to all of you who have small children in their lives-  DO NOT send those talking cards.  DO NOT buy talking toys or things that include tiny batteries (Hazel's was the size of a dime).  Check all the battery operated devices you leave lying around and then remove them to safe places, but remember there are NO safe places from curious toddlers.  Keep your remotes up high and get off the couch to change the channel.  If it says 'batteries included', don't buy it.  If it says 'batteries not included', don't buy it.  the doctor told us that these things are insidious now and he is pulling batteries out of every available kid orifice 4 or 5 times a week.  Most are found more quickly than Hazel's but beware of ANY breathing problem, any wheezing or gasping and get them in immediately for an x-ray.  Insist on an x-ray-  better to take a chance on that than a chance it's a cold.  And now I have to get back to worrying long distance.


Terry said...

Holy sh*t. I think we must have a hundred of those little batteries in stuff around here, not to mention Grandpa's hearing aid batteries that he tends to leave lying about. I am off to sweep the place clean. Absolutely frightening. I am thinking good thoughts for wee Hazel's complete recovery. Gahh. I am completely freaked out now.

Deb said...

All good will and wishes Hazel's way. How petty troubles and concerns pale and fade away in the face of this one...

June said...

Oh Sandy, my heart is with you this evening -- and all your family, of course.

Thank you for the post. I think it should be made far more widely known; I haven't been with a toddler for years, but that doesn't mean there aren't millions out there that need guarded from this kind of horror.


carrie said...

Oh my goodness, thank you for this. I have a new grandson and things have changed so much since my children were small; it never occurred to me. Prayers for a good, and swift, recovery for Hazel, and for yourself and the rest of the family as well.