THINKER’S ALMANAC – February 9

Subject:  Success — The 10,000 Hours Rule 

Event:  The Beatles first appear on Ed Sulivan, 1964

On February 9, 1964, a British band made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan television show.  Approximately 73 million Americans watched as The Beatles launched what became known as the “British Invasion.”  Instead of military might, The Fab Four used musical might to conquer their audiences. Anyone who watched that night saw firsthand the effects of Beatlemania:  teenage girls screamed, hyperventilated, and swooned as they watched the band from Liverpool play.

The Beatles with Ed Sullivan in February 1964
The Beatles with Ed Sullivan (Wikipedia)

Most Americans who watched that night assumed that The Beatles were an overnight success, but those who knew their true story realized that Beatlemania was actually a slowly spreading pandemic, beginning seven years earlier in 1957 when Paul McCartney first met his partner John Lennon.  In 1960, the band traveled from Liverpool, England, to Germany where they played in various clubs in Hamburg’s red-light district.  In Hamburg, they learned their craft.  Back in Liverpool, their gigs were only about an hour each; in Hamburg, they played eight-hour sessions.  This allowed them to build stamina and skill.  The long sessions required them to learn how to woo an audience and how to hold its attention.  They became more confident performers and much more accomplished musicians. Before returning to England, where they got their first recording contract, it is estimated that The Beatles performed live twelve hundred times.

In his 2008 book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell pointed to The Beatles as an example to illustrate what he called the “10,000 hours rule.”  The rule, according to Gladwell, is what separates the greats from the average.  Talent is important, but nothing can replace deliberate, focused practice of a craft, whether it’s playing the guitar, swinging a baseball bat, or learning to program computers (1).

Since the publication of Gladwell’s Outliers, some have questioned the validity of the 10,000-hour rule.  Certainly deliberate practice is important to master any skill, but is it really a ticket to greatness, and does it guarantee success?  Reviews of psychological research reveal that other factors such as genetics, life experience, natural talent, and temperament play a big part in the complex recipe that makes up individual success (2).

Recall, Retrieve, Recite, Ruminate, Reflect, Reason: What is the 10,000-hour rule, and how did Malcolm Gladwell illustrate it with The Beatles?

Challenge – Secrets To Success:  Do some research on “the key to success.”  What have different people said about the secret to success, and which one key factor would you identify as the most important?

Sources:

1-Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.

2-Resnik, Brian. The “10,000-hour Rule” was Debunked Again.  That’s a Relief. Vox 23 August 2019.

February 9: Weather Words Day

On this date in 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress establishing the U.S. Weather Bureau.  Today the official term for the agency is the National Weather Service (NWS), a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

When originally established, the NWS was a part of the United States Army, specifically the U.S. Army Signal Service’s Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce.  The advent of the telegraph in the mid-19th century was a major advancement in meteorology, allowing the rapid collection and analysis of weather data and observations (1).

Today the NWS is a civilian agency under the auspices of the Department of Commerce.  Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, it has 122 weather forecast offices and over 5,000 employees.  The NWS collects some 76 billion observations and issues approximately 1.5 million forecasts each year. (2).

In addition to talking about the literal weather outside, we also talk a lot about figurative weather, using a flood of weather metaphors and idioms to shoot the breeze.  The following are just a few examples of these figurative weather words:

Cloud nine

Cloud of suspicion

Fair-weather friend

Head in the clouds

Rain check

Shoot the breeze

Snow job

Steal someone’s thunder

Tempest in a teapot

Under the weather

Weather the storm

Today’s Challenge:  Brainstorm of Titles

What are some titles of books, stories, poems, plays, songs, or movies that have weather words in them?  Of all the weather-titled works, which is the single best?  Brainstorm a list of titles that contain at least one weather word, such as breeze, cloud, flood, fog, frozen, gale, hazy, heat, hurricane, ice, lightning, misty, rain, shower, snow, storm, sunny, thunder, or wind.  For example, the following is a list of titles that each contain the word “snow”:

Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow

Let It Snow

Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Snowbird

Snow Day

Snow Falling on Cedars

Stopping By Wood on a Snowy Evening

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Once you have a good list, select the one work that you think is the best.  Write a paragraph arguing why this weather-titled work stands out.  Beyond just its title, what makes this work of art outstanding?  (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day:  Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. -John Ruskin

1-http://www.weather.gov/timeline

2-http://www.weather.gov/about