Two pop psychology posts caught my eye recently. Adam Rifkin, quoting a pop business article:
[P]eople performing at a high level — in sports, the arts, and other endeavors — attain Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow state”: Time slows down, concentration comes effortlessly, distraction melts away.
[E]xperts often speak of the “10-year rule” — that it takes at least a decade of hard work or practice to become highly successful in most endeavors, from managing a hardware store to writing sitcoms — and the ability to persist in the face of obstacles is almost always an essential ingredient in major achievements.
These observations strike me as true and complementary, though my intuition about such things comes mostly from a visceral feeling that I’m not getting on with the program.
The only brief time I’ve felt flow was during creation of Meta e-zine (including selling ads), but the persistent bit was not set. In other matters I’ve been fairly persistent, but at a pathetically high level of distraction (just one example).
Also from the Psychology Today article:
[P]ersistence is vital even for an indisputable genius. Mozart’s diaries, for example, contain an oft-cited passage in which the composer reports that an entire symphony appeared, supposedly intact, in his head. “But no one ever quotes the next paragraph, where he talks about how he refined the work for months,” notes Jonathan Plucker, an educational psychologist at Indiana University.
This reminds me of another pet peeve that I’ve been meaning to write about: invention is not innovation and innovation is more important than invention. For now, see Techdirt’s many posts on this theme, e.g., The Difference Between Innovation And Invention.
Ramit Sethi’s post The Myth of the Great Idea sort of hits on all of these, um, ideas.