Eventual elites typically devote less time early on to deliberate practice in the activity in which they will eventually become experts. Instead, they undergo what researchers call a “sampling period.” They play a variety of sports, usually in an unstructured or lightly structured environment; they gain a range of physical proficiencies from which they can draw; they learn about their own abilities and proclivities; and only later do they focus in and ramp up technical practice in one area. (Location 191)

The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization. (Location 288)

In wicked domains, the rules of the game are often unclear or incomplete, there may or may not be repetitive patterns and they may not be obvious, and feedback is often delayed, inaccurate, or both. (Location 384)review

call Moravec’s paradox: machines and humans frequently have opposite strengths and weaknesses. (Location 401)review

Through repetitive study of game patterns, they had learned to do what Chase and Simon called “chunking.” Rather than struggling to remember the location of every individual pawn, bishop, and rook, the brains of elite players grouped pieces into a smaller number of meaningful chunks based on familiar patterns. Those patterns allow expert players to immediately assess the situation based on experience, which is why Garry Kasparov told me that grandmasters usually know their move within seconds. (Location 448)review

Chunking helps explain instances of apparently miraculous, domain-specific memory, from musicians playing long pieces by heart to quarterbacks recognizing patterns of players in a split second and making a decision to throw. The reason that elite athletes seem to have superhuman reflexes is that they recognize patterns of ball or body movements that tell them what’s coming before it happens. (Location 453)review - Note: This is often what we mean by the comment the game is slowing down for him

Because Lemke and other savants have seemingly limitless retrieval capacity, Treffert initially attributed their abilities to perfect memories; they are human tape recorders. Except, when they are tested after hearing a piece of music for the first time, musical savants reproduce “tonal” music—the genre of nearly all pop and most classical music—more easily than “atonal” music, in which successive notes do not follow familiar harmonic structures. If savants were human tape recorders playing notes back, it would make no difference whether they were asked to re-create music that follows popular rules of composition or not. But in practice, it makes an enormous difference. (Location 474)review

In 2019, in a limited version of StarCraft, AI beat a pro for the first time. (The pro adapted and earned a win after a string of losses.) But the game’s strategic complexity provides a lesson: the bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution. Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly. (Location 503)review - Note: it is tough to beat a computer at a highly structured game, open ended problems and creativity is where our advantages lie.

As one oncologist put it, “The difference between winning at Jeopardy! and curing all cancer is that we know the answer to Jeopardy! questions.” With cancer, we’re still working on posing the right questions in the first place. (Location 512)review - Note: Referring to Watson

He studied high-powered consultants from top business schools for fifteen years, and saw that they did really well on business school problems that were well defined and quickly assessed. But they employed what Argyris called single-loop learning, the kind that favors the first familiar solution that comes to mind. Whenever those solutions went wrong, the consultant usually got defensive. Argyris found their “brittle personalities” particularly surprising given that “the essence of their job is to teach others how to do things differently.” (Location 524)review

But tennis is still very much on the kind end of the spectrum compared to, say, a hospital emergency room, where doctors and nurses do not automatically find out what happens to a patient after their encounter. They have to find ways to learn beyond practice, and to assimilate lessons that might even contradict their direct experience. (Location 539)review - Note: delayed results make this particularly challenging.

As Robin Hogarth put it, much of the world is “Martian tennis.” You can see the players on a court with balls and rackets, but nobody has shared the rules. It is up to you to derive them, and they are subject to change without notice. (Location 542)review - Note: this is where good problem solving is particularly helpful

When experienced accountants were asked in a study to use a new tax law for deductions that replaced a previous one, they did worse than novices. Erik Dane, a Rice University professor who studies organizational behavior, calls this phenomenon “cognitive entrenchment.” His suggestions for avoiding it are about the polar opposite of the strict version of the ten-thousand-hours school of thought: vary challenges within a domain drastically, and, as a fellow researcher put it, insist on “having one foot outside your world.” (Location 555)review

Those findings have been repeated in other traditional societies, and scientists have suggested it may reflect the fact that premodern people are not as drawn to the holistic context—the relationship of the various circles to one another—so their perception is not changed by the presence of extra circles. To use a common metaphor, premodern people miss the forest for the trees; modern people miss the trees for the forest. (Location 691)review

Conceptual schemes are flexible, able to arrange information and ideas for a wide variety of uses, and to transfer knowledge between domains. Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. (Location 714)review - Note: “relate what i dont know to what i do know”

“Even the best universities aren’t developing critical intelligence,” he told me. “They aren’t giving students the tools to analyze the modern world, except in their area of specialization. Their education is too narrow.” He does not mean this in the simple sense that every computer science major needs an art history class, but rather that everyone needs habits of mind that allow them to dance across disciplines. (Location 777)review

The study he conducted at the state university convinced him that college departments rush to develop students in a narrow specialty area, while failing to sharpen the tools of thinking that can serve them in every area. (Location 789)review

Charles Limb, a musician, hearing specialist, and auditory surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, designed an iron-free keyboard so that jazz musicians could improvise while inside an MRI scanner. Limb saw that brain areas associated with focused attention, inhibition, and self-censoring turned down when the musicians were creating. “It’s almost as if the brain turned off its own ability to criticize itself,” he told National Geographic. While improvising, musicians do pretty much the opposite of consciously identifying errors and stopping to correct them. (Location 1158)review

In offering advice to parents, psychologist Adam Grant noted that creativity may be difficult to nurture, but it is easy to thwart. He pointed to a study that found an average of six household rules for typical children, compared to one in households with extremely creative children. The parents with creative children made their opinions known after their kids did something they didn’t like, they just did not proscribe it beforehand. Their households were low on prior restraint. (Location 1191)review

When younger students bring home problems that force them to make connections, Richland told me, “parents are like, ‘Lemme show you, there’s a faster, easier way.’” If the teacher didn’t already turn the work into using-procedures practice, well-meaning parents will. They aren’t comfortable with bewildered kids, and they want understanding to come quickly and easily. But for learning that is both durable (it sticks) and flexible (it can be applied broadly), fast and easy is precisely the problem. (Location 1293)review

Kornell was explaining the concept of “desirable difficulties,” obstacles that make learning more challenging, slower, and more frustrating in the short term, but better in the long term. Excessive hint-giving, like in the eighth-grade math classroom, does the opposite; it bolsters immediate performance, but undermines progress in the long run. (Location 1300)review

In the practice sessions with hints upon request, the monkeys behaved a lot like humans. They almost always requested hints when they were available, and thus got a lot of the lists right. Overall, they had about 250 trials to learn each list. After three days of practice, the scientists took off the training wheels. Starting on day four, the memorizing monkeys had to repeat all the lists from every training condition without any hints whatsoever. It was a performance disaster. Oberon only got about one-third of the lists right. (Location 1325)review - Note: We as humans only take the time to learn and store the things that we cant find easily.

The economists suggested that the professors who caused short-term struggle but long-term gains were facilitating “deep learning” by making connections. They “broaden the curriculum and produce students with a deeper understanding of the material.” It also made their courses more difficult and frustrating, as evidenced by both the students’ lower Calculus I exam scores and their harsher evaluations of their instructors. (Location 1394) Times of struggle are when growth occurs - Note: Struggle = learning even if it doesnt feel great in the moment.

Psychologist Robert Bjork first used the phrase “desirable difficulties” in 1994. Twenty years later, he and a coauthor concluded a book chapter on applying the science of learning like this: “Above all, the most basic message is that teachers and students must avoid interpreting current performance as learning. Good performance on a test during the learning process can indicate mastery, but learners and teachers need to be aware that such performance will often index, instead, fast but fleeting progress.” (Location 1407)review

the most successful problem solvers spend mental energy figuring out what type of problem they are facing before matching a strategy to it, rather than jumping in with memorized procedures. (Location 1466)review

a “variety of base domains,” which foster analogical thinking and conceptual connections that can help students categorize the type of problem they are facing. That is precisely a skill that sets the most adept problem solvers apart. (Location 1745)review

“Match quality” is a term economists use to describe the degree of fit between the work someone does and who they are—their abilities and proclivities. (Location 1936)review

In the late 1960s, future Nobel laureate economist Theodore Schultz argued that his field had done well to show that higher education increased worker productivity, but that economists had neglected the role of education in allowing individuals to delay specialization while sampling and finding out who they are and where they fit. (Location 1944)review

Persevering through difficulty is a competitive advantage for any traveler of a long road, but he suggested that knowing when to quit is such a big strategic advantage that every single person, before undertaking an endeavor, should enumerate conditions under which they should quit. The important trick, he said, is staying attuned to whether switching is simply a failure of perseverance, or astute recognition that better matches are available. (Location 2057)review

“You have to carry a big basket to bring something home.” She repeats that phrase today, to mean that a mind kept wide open will take something from every new experience. (Location 2289)review

Psychologist Dan Gilbert called it the “end of history illusion.” From teenagers to senior citizens, we recognize that our desires and motivations sure changed a lot in the past (see: your old hairstyle), but believe they will not change much in the future. In Gilbert’s terms, we are works in progress claiming to be finished. (Location 2337)review

… Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. This is what most successful people actually do anyway. (Location 2449)review

“I thought about the process that differentiates solutions, and it wasn’t part of any curriculum or on anybody’s résumé. I realized there was always going to be this somewhat serendipitous outside thinking that was going to make a solution more clever, cost-effective, efficacious, more on the money than anyone else’s. (Location 2548)review

As organizational boxes get smaller and smaller, and as outsiders are more easily engaged online, “exploration [of new solutions] now increasingly resides outside the boundaries of the traditional firm,” Lakhani and colleagues wrote. Our intuition might be that only hyperspecialized experts can drive modern innovation, but increasing specialization actually creates new opportunities for outsiders. (Location 2649)review - Note: This is the importance of cross-departmental teams and open and frequent communication.

“Big innovation most often happens when an outsider who may be far away from the surface of the problem reframes the problem in a way that unlocks the solution.” (Location 2654)review

Pedro Domingos, a computer science professor and machine learning researcher, told me. “Knowledge is a double-edged sword. It allows you to do some things, but it also makes you blind to other things that you could do.” (Location 2665)review

Ouderkirk wondered if layering many thin plastic surfaces on top of one another, each with distinct optical qualities, could create a film that custom-reflected and -refracted various wavelengths of light in all directions. A group of optics specialists he consulted assured him it could not be done, which was exactly what he wanted to hear. “If they say, ‘It’s a great idea, go for it, makes sense,’ what is the chance you’re the first person to come up with it? Precisely zero,” he told me. (Location 2996)review

“If you’re working on well-defined and well-understood problems, specialists work very, very well,” he told me. “As ambiguity and uncertainty increases, which is the norm with systems problems, breadth becomes increasingly important.” (Location 3089)review

Individual creators started out with lower innovativeness than teams—they were less likely to produce a smash hit—but as their experience broadened they actually surpassed teams: an individual creator who had worked in four or more genres was more innovative than a team whose members had collective experience across the same number of genres. Taylor and Greve suggested that “individuals are capable of more creative integration of diverse experiences than teams are.” (Location 3122)review

In kind environments, where the goal is to re-create prior performance with as little deviation as possible, teams of specialists work superbly. Surgical teams work faster and make fewer mistakes as they repeat specific procedures, and specialized surgeons get better outcomes even independent of repetitions. (Location 3137)review

Griffin’s research team noticed that serial innovators repeatedly claimed that they themselves would be screened out under their company’s current hiring practices. “A mechanistic approach to hiring, while yielding highly reproducible results, in fact reduces the numbers of high-potential [for innovation] candidates,” they wrote. (Location 3180)review

disliked bargaining, which felt like trying to take advantage of customers. He was (Location 1838)review

Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. (Location 4275)review