Practice Makes Proficient

Edison had it right about genius.

A new book citing the latest research into human accomplishment points out that high achievers are more self-made than born to win. In Talent Is Overrated, author Geoff Colvin shows how maestros, masterminds and MVPs from Mozart to Michelangelo to (Willie) Mays bear out Thomas Edison's maxim: Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. "This research takes some of the magic out of great achievement," commented columnist David Brooks. "But it underlines a fact that is often neglected. Public discussion is smitten by genetics and what we're 'hardwired' to do. And it's true that genes place a leash on our capacities. But the brain is also phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behavior. ... It's not who you are; it's what you do." Funny how frequently the "science of human potential" ends up sounding like Catholic theology on free will.