Thursday, 23 June 2011

10,000 hours Theory

10,000 hours = 3 hours a day for 10 years

There are very few days that I don’t work on some aspect of my art. Whether it is sketching, reading about design theory, seeing new courses, evaluating courses, actual field work or simply trying to get outside of my box and re-assess design from a complete new angle. I continue to work on being a better designer just about ever day of the year.

Herb Simon pioneered a theory in the 1970’s that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve a level of expertise in any sport or profession. After studying many of the world’s experts in many given fields, he found this to be a common denominator among the group. None were natural and ready from the outset. They all had a gift for what they pursued, but each one clearly had worked very hard for a long period of time to become very accomplished at what they did.

One important aspect that remains a critical part of this theory is the fact the person putting in all the practice and time has to have the natural talent to work with in the first place. If the person has no natural talent, even this level of dedication will not achieve mastery over their pursuit. They will always be limited by the natural talent that they have to work with. I was an awful writer in University. I’ve spent years writing every day and become good enough to get published. That is as far as my limited talent will take me. No additional time or additional education will ever help me master writing.

I have always believed in Seneca’s observation that Success is when Opportunity meets Preparation. In studying most artists, the elite are not the ones with the greatest “natural” ability. While they do come from a pool of naturally talented people, they are the ones who are willing to work much harder than anyone else to perfect their craft. The elite are not destined, but rather the combination of talent and determination.

While talent and developing that talent over 10,000 hours are critical to mastering your subject or profession, the final piece of the puzzle is opportunity. It took me a long time to realize that the 10,000 plus hours I have spent (includes the blogging) were critical to becoming a much better designer. I’m only beginning to realize that 10,000 hours may be just as critical to becoming a better businessman. It's going to take a little more creative thinking to increase the opportunities available in this challenging times.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Emerald Ash Borer is here

Entry Hole
I grew up playing a course that was once lined with majestic Elms. I found myself wondering how much more impressive the course must have been before that happened and often thought that watching all those trees die must have been depressing. Unfortunately we are all going to see something very similar as the Emerald Ash Borer sweeps through Toronto over the next tree years.

The beetle was first detected in Essex County in 2002 and has been slowly working its way east. There have been numerous confirmations on golf courses in and around Toronto beginning last year. Unfortunately all native and non-native Ash trees are susceptible. They were a common planting on many courses in the last 30 years and some are key trees for safety.

Since the adults and larvae feed underneath the bark of the trees, they are nearly impossible to detect. The only potential for saving some is an injection program that will protect the trees for a year at a time. But like any solution of this type, it’s expensive and not guaranteed. I spent yesterday deciding the fate of around 300 trees. There is no guarantee an injection program will work, but today we selected 100 trees to protect and hopefully save. That also meant I spent the day deciding which trees would go. I normally have no trouble removing trees, but somehow this seemed different.

I don’t think this is the end of our problems. The Emerald Ash Borer came from China and I expect more of these problems in the future as our economy is globally based. I’m not looking forward to the next three years as many courses will be dramatically impacted by the loss of trees. The only positive that will come out of this is that I have always pushed for diversity and I think clubs will be willing to spend a little more to provide that diversity and protection from the next event.