27 April 2010

Seeking Failure

For deliberate practice to work, the demands have to be serious and sustained. Simply playing lots of chess or soccer or golf isn't enough. Simply taking lessons from a wonderful teacher is not enough. Simply wanting it badly enough is not enough. Deliberate practice requires a mind-set of never, ever, being satisfied with your current ability. It requires constant self-critique, a pathological restlessness, a passion to aim consistently just beyond one's capability so that daily disappointment and failure is actually desired, and a never-ending resolve to dust oneself off and try again and again.
David Shenk, The Genius in All of Us, 55
David Shenk is known to chessplayers as author of The Immortal Game: A History of Chess (2006). The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ is Wrong (2010) is his new book. It develops further some of the themes in The Immortal Game.


  1. Yep, chess is trail and error, atleast for us patzers. :-)

  2. Your quote is enough to make me want to buy the book, thanks for pointing it out.

    It is definitely the "thorny path" that is in common to all real achievement.

  3. Shenk is a good researcher and writer. There's not much new in the book, but what is old knowledge among those that study the brain and genetics and sports psychology may surprise you. Shenk does a good job of putting it forth.

  4. I really enjoy that quote too.

    For what it's worth, I ran across a couple of bloggers who think they've debunked Shenk. You can find the links on a post I created a couple of months ago (http://rockyrook.blogspot.com/2010/03/general-factor-of-intelligence-genius.html)