In the book I’m reading,The Talent Code, the author showcases a 1997 study which asked why some kids make massive performance progress when taking piano lessons and some do not.
After looking at a wide range of variables- IQ, aural sensitivity, math skills, rhythm, sensorimotor skills, income level- the researchers stumbled on an answer in a question they’d asked the children before they ever slid their stool to the keyboard.
The question? How long do you think you’ll play your new instrument?
As you can see in the graph above, the correlation between long-term commitment and pace of improvement were eye opening. From the book:
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Progress was not determined by any measurable aptitude or trait, but by a tiny powerful idea the child had before even starting lessons. The differences were staggering. With the same amount of practice the long-term-commitment group outperformed the short-term-commitment group by 400%. The long-term-commitment group with, with a mere 20 minutes of weekly practice, progressed faster than the short-termers who practiced for an hour and a half. When long-term-commitment combined with high levels of practice, skills skyrocketed.
As in piano, entrepreneurship sees its fair share of tourists. Toe dippers, looking for a thrill, occasionally take the plunge yet continue keeping an eye on that safe and inviting shoreline. Inevitably, they all swim back via quick flips, acqihires or giving up once they figure out that being a founder isn’t nearly as cool as they thought it would be.
And I don’t blame them. This startups stuff is hard on every level.
But there are a group of founders with a long-term commitment to practicing the skill of turning small companies into impactful businesses. And they made the decision, before they ever started or joined a company, that the path of entrepreneurship was for them.
This doesn’t mean they’ll never give up on their current idea. Nor, does it mean they won’t work within a large company. It means that the decisions they make and the experiences they accumulate will be feeding that long-term commitment to honing their craft as entrepreneurs.
PS- you can read the whole chapter this graph comes from here.