Power Point: Practice to be extraordinary

“The 10,000-hours rule says that if you look at any kind of cognitively complex field, from playing chess to being a neurosurgeon, we see this incredibly consistent pattern that you cannot be good at that unless you practice for 10,000 hours, which is roughly 10 years, if you think about four hours a day.”

— Malcolm Gladwell, from a Q&A with Fortune writer Jennifer Reingold in the current issue. In Gladwell’s new book, Outliers: The Story of Success, he makes the case that a high level of practice sets extraordinary achievers apart from the ordinary. Fortune senior editor at large Geoff Colvin takes a similar view in his new book, Talent is Overrated, where he outlines the hallmarks of “deliberate practice.”

Gladwell and Colvin cite companies like General Electric , Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble as models because they focus more on developing talent than just hiring it. Both writers also believe that periods of crisis breed exceptional talent. “When it’s easy to make money, you have no incentive to think about development of talent. Now, you’re forced to,” says Gladwell. For more on Colvin’s take leadership development in extraordinary times, read his recent Guest Post on Postcards. — Jessica Shambora

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