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Friday, July 09, 2010

Slum Dog Millionaire, Karate Kid, Gladwell, 10,000 Hours, Francis Kong and Training

If you've seen the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire," you'll know what I mean. The main protagonist in the movie have witnessed so many things in his life that seemed to be all casual incidents. In the end these seemingly random puzzle pieces fell into place and were meant to make him an instant millionaire and reunite with the love of his life.

No, nothing that dramatic happened to me but the falling of the puzzle pieces happened as I sit here at Jollibee enjoying my longganisa meal by my lonesome.

I watched the movie Karate Kid (which should be called kungfu kid instead) the other week. In that movie, Jackie Chan's character Mr. Han made Dre (Jaden Smith) take off his jacket, hang it, drop it to the ground, pick it up, wear it and do everything all over again so many times that Dre thought he did over a thousand times. What he thought was Mr. Han's brand of punishment for his undisciplined ways was actually a kungfu technique that he was able to use skillfully in the end. Fascinating and entertaining as it was, it didn't make a lot of sense to me. Hey, I love the Transporter series so, I don't really care much about sense when I'm watching a movie. :-)

Last Saturday, I sat in one of those annual training for Toastmasters Officers. Francis Kong was a keynote speaker. Mr. Kong delivered an engaging talk as expected which to my opinion made this round of training beat all the past officers' training I've attended. As he delivered his speech, Mr. Kong mentioned that practice makes... Permanent. The crowd of course said perfect but when he said the word permanent, it just made more sense. It was just a teeny winnie segment of his speech but it must have found its way into my already crowded subconscious.

Last year, I had a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers." I'm a big fan of Gladwell and that book only enhanced my admiration for his powerful story telling skills. In one part of the book he wrote that many individuals who are considered very good and hence, successful at what they do spent about 10, 000 hours honing their skills. He showed some overwhelming evidence that it is true. After I finished reading the book I looked for more evidence that it is true. I looked at my training experience in 7-Eleven where I conducted training everyday for three straight years. Was it 10, 000 hours? I didn't count. I think by now, I must have gathered more than that... not that I'm very old or anything. I looked for other evidences and found myself agreeing with Gladwell's observation more and more. I don't know if I am right but you know what they say, we tend to see what we intend to see.

This morning as I sip my hot chocolate, I find all these to be connected. Do you see it? The karate kid routine was a form of programming that helped Smith's character respond accordingly when triggered. The repetition as in Gladwell's 10, 000 hours is important to turn the knowledge into a skill, a permanence just like what Francis Kong said. "Practice Makes Permanent."

Turning knowledge into skills takes practice. It takes many repetitions to enable us to turn a wobbly performance in a virtuosity. When training does not allow for just one practice of the knowledge, it is hard to make that knowledge stick. Without practice, it rests momentarily in our short term memory bank only to be overwritten when new knowledge come along. The lesson in all this, I believe is if we want to develop a new skill, we need to acquire a new knowledge and practice it right away. If we want to turn skill into something the world will be willing to pay big money for, we need to put in the time and turn it into our own Kungfu.



  1. Kashian3:19 PM

    Sir Ed, kamusta? I read Outliers too and I found it amusing and inspiring at the same time. agree ako "Practice makes Permanent" talaga, kahit medyo may pgka redundant sa tingin ko..


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