How To Be An Expert

From: How to be an expert

The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication. All that talk about prodigies? We could all be prodigies (or nearly so) if we just put in the time and focused. At least that’s what the brain guys are saying. Best of all–it’s almost never too late.

MusicHack #2:
Talent = A gift for concentration, dedication, and a simple desire to keep getting better.

From The New Brain by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, who has spent most of his 20+ year career on the study of genuises, prodigies, and superior performers:

“For the superior performer the goal isn’t just repeating the same thing again and again but achieving higher levels of control over every aspect of their performance. That’s why they don’t find practice boring. Each practice session they are working on doing something better than they did the last time.”

MusicHack #3:
“The research says that if we were willing to put in more hours, and to use those hours to practice the things that aren’t so fun, we could become good. Great. Potentially brilliant.”

Most of us want to practice the things we’re already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever.

Here’s where the article directly relates to Absolute Pitch Power users:

Your users will typically fall into one of the three categories in the graphic: expert, amateur, or drop-out. The drop-outs decide that during that “I suck at this” phase, it isn’t worth continuing. They give up. Is that something you can work on? Do you know what your attrition rate is?

Once a quarter I implement new strategies to keep Absolute Pitch Power customers engaged and reduce attrition. I wish there was a 100% fool-proof way to keep people active because I feel personally responsible. It’s unfortunate that absolute pitch success is not entirely up to me. 🙂

But the most troubling–and where we have the most leverage–is with the amateur who is satisfied with where they are. These are the folks who you overhear saying, “Yes, I know there’s a better way to do this thing, but I already know how to do it this [less efficient, less powerful] way and it’s easy for me to just keep doing it like that.” In other words, they made it past the suck threshold, but now they don’t want to push for new skills and capabilities. They don’t want to suck again. But that means they’ll never get past the kick-ass threshold where there’s a much greater chance they’ll become passionate about it. The further up that capability curve they are, the higher-res the user experience is!

Can we help make it easier for them to continue on the path to becoming expert? Remember, being better is better. Whatever you’re better at becomes more fun, more satisfying, a richer experience, and it leads to more flow. This is what we’re trying to do for our users.

First of all, I love the term “higher-res user experience.” Do you realize that is the benefit of having absolute pitch? It’s like increasing the sampling rate from 8kHz to 96kHz. It’s a richer and more detailed experience of sound.

And here’s my challenge to you. What can you do to push through the amateur threshold into kick-ass territory? How can you make it easy to follow through when it ceases to be fun? Because remember, that’s where passion, flow and satisfaction are waiting for you.

I’ll let the author close:

And if the neuroscientists are right, you can create new brain cells–by learning (and not being stuck in a dull cubicle)–at virtually any age. Think about it… if you’re 30 today, if you take up the guitar tomorrow, you’ll have been playing for TWENTY years by the time you’re 50. You’ll be kicking some serious guitar butt. And if you’re 50 today, there’s no reason you can’t be kicking guitar butt at 70. What are you waiting for?

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  1. The Graham English Blog » links for 2006-03-09 - March 9, 2006

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