The striking thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds," people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks. Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work juts hard or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.
The idea that excellence at perforing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researches have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
"...in study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to acheieve true mastery."
This is true even of people we think of as prodigies.
We become masters of our lives in the same way—by focusing on first things first. We all have a pretty good idea of the most important decisions we need to make—decisions that will improve our lives and bring us greater happiness and peace. That is where we should start. That is where we should place our greatest effort.
Each night before I go to bed, I take out a small card and write a list of the things I need to do the next day in order of their priority.
When I arrive at the office in the morning, I check my card and put all my efforts into the first item on the list. When I accomplish that item, I move on to the second and so on. Some days, I finish every item on my list. On other days, some tasks are not completed. I don't become discouraged, however, because I'm focusing my energies on the things that matter most.
Through study of the scriptures and the teachings of our modern prophets, it appears that our first and most basic stewardship is our body. To acquire a body was one of the main purposes of our coming to earth, and we are then to use this body as a divine instrument to perfect and train the spirit until the spirit has the full control and mastery of it under the direction of the Holy Spirit. If I do not honor the stewardship over my own flesh, how could I possibly honor my stewardship as a husband or wife, of father or mother?
The brain does not make the man; the man makes the brain.
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