Brilliance is Over-rated. Practice isn’t.

Right around the time our first child was born, The Mozart-for-babies craze was at its peak.

The idea was that listening to Mozart’s music – even in utero – would make babies smarter. It was a gimmick by marketers that – brilliantly, of course – played into the belief of many parents that their children were “very bright” or “brilliant.”

As someone who fits nicely into the cultural zeitgeist (more of a follower than an innovator), I was delighted whenever our kids did really well at something, and attributed much of this to their natural intelligence. I thought we lived in a town like Lake Wobegon, where, in the words of Garrison Keillor, “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average”.

But as time goes on, I’ve gradually realized that our society’s fascination with genius – and good looks for that matter – is way overdone.

Sure, intelligence helps. But the vast majority of really accomplished people I’ve met owe their success to “practice, practice, practice” far more than anything else.

“There is no doubt in my mind that intelligence is only a fraction of the ingredients needed to be successful,” said Jim Cantrell of the SpaceX founding team, when asked about the widely admired innovator and entrepreneur, Elon Musk.

SpaceX only became successful after many years of years of struggle, and even failure. “Elon did succeed in the end because he never counted himself out. He never gave up. He kept going,” said Cantrell. Musk’s most important element of success was “dogged determination.”

There are countless stories like this. I’m reading about one of them right now.

The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis (the guy who wrote “Moneyball”) is a delightful account of the collaboration and friendship of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their insights about judgement and decision making laid much of the groundwork for behavioral economics. (Richard Thaler, who won this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics, says both men “changed how we think about how we think.”).

Were both men geniuses? Probably. But on almost every page, the reader is struck by Kahneman and Tversky’s determination and dedication. They stuck at it.

The spark for all those years of hard work was passion. If you’re really fired-up by something, the chances are you will do it everyday. And get really good at it.

I used to wish that our kids would ace the test. But I should have prayed for work ethic instead.

(Years later, I’m enormously thankful that both of our adult children have indeed found what they love to do and spend most of their waking hours doing it. As the years unfold, their odds doing something special are in their favor.)

Richard Davies makes podcasts at DaviesContent.com. He’s the co-host of the weekly news and current affairs solutions podcast, “How Do We Fix It?”

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Are Killjoys Opposed to Backyard Trampolines?

Photo by The Indianapolis Star – via USA Today

The big debate over trampoline safety is important but often distorted. So often news accounts are written from the perspective of the dangers they may present more than the fun they provide. Many who condemn home trampolines take a very different view about bikes, which can also be dangerous… Or contact sports… Or playgrounds. When properly supervised and equipped with netting tramps can be a terrific source of fun for kids.  But yes, they do present dangers. A question worth asking is whether we value play as much as we should? Are we trying to control and even squelch the joyous, spontaneous things our children get up to?

The article below is from USA Today…  May 7, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — Boing, boing, boing … OWW! could be the anthem of the trampoline jumper — and that’s a good reason to ban the things, said an Indiana University researcher.

A new study from an Indiana University School of Medicine researcher finds that from 2002 to 2011, accidents on backyard trampolines accounted for nearly 289,000 visits to emergency rooms for broken bones. Factor in all accidents, not just fractures, and the tally rises to more than 1 million ER visits, according to the study which published online in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

“We are inundated with injuries,” said Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Kids need to be healthy and active, but this is not the way to do it.”

STORY: Pediatricians: Backyard trampolines too dangerous

His study, the first to look at fractures related to trampoline use nationwide, found that over 10 years, trampolines caused an estimated 288,876 fractures, at a cost of more than $400 million. Trampoline injuries overall led to more than $1 billion in emergency room visits.

Loder, a surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, decided to do the study after seeing an increase in the number of patients with fractures suffered in backyard trampoline accidents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against backyard trampolines since 1999, and many homeowner insurance policies either prohibit them or have a clear exclusion for trampoline injuries.

Still, that doesn’t stop parents from purchasing them.

Kids need to be healthy and active, but this is not the way to do it.
Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine
And some, such as Mark Publicover, dispute how dangerous trampolines are. Publicover invented the trampoline safety enclosure about 15 years ago and founded JumpSport Inc., a San Jose-based trampoline company.

If you compare the number of hours children spend jumping on trampolines compared with the time they spend in other activities such as biking or swimming in backyard pools or playing on swing sets, trampolines cause much fewer injuries, Publicover said.

“If you look at all of the high energy activities kids can play in, trampolines end up being pretty much the safest things that they can do,” said Publicover, who broke his leg on an earlier generation trampoline.

Eight years ago Jason Reese, a personal injury lawyer in Carmel, Ind., purchased a trampoline for his three kids, now 14, 11 and 9; two years ago he replaced it with a large one he considers safer. He also hires an inspector to check the net once a year.

Strict rules govern the use of the Reese family’s trampoline. No more than four kids at a time. A parent must be home. Don’t bounce against the safety net. And no one is to go airborne.

The only injuries from their trampoline? A few bloody noses.

“For the most part, like any other parenting thing, it comes down to supervision,” said Reese. “You can do it safely.”

Still, he’s amazed at what he sees in other people’s backyards, from trampolines that have no nets, to those that sit on uneven surfaces to trampolines with decaying mats that provide iffy support.

Little surprise that stories about trampoline-related injuries are rife in the suburbs.

According to Loder’s study, which included data from 100 hospitals nationwide, the number of injuries peaked in 2004 with about 110,000. Since then, the number has slowly dropped to an estimated 80,000 injuries in 2011.

If you look at all of the high energy activities kids can play in, trampolines end up being pretty much the safest things that they can do.
Mark Publicover, founder of JumpSport Inc. and inventor of trampoline safety enclosure
Safety enclosures like the one Publicover invented, now standard on trampolines, no doubt have had much to do with the reduction in injuries, he said.

By 2004, 75% of trampolines had safety enclosures. At the same time, sales had gone from 600,000 a year just a few years ago to 1.2 million, Publicover said.

Doctors, however, would prefer to see much fewer injuries.

“Whether it’s 80,000 or 100,000, that’s still a huge number of totally preventable injuries,” Loder said. “The way to prevent it is not to go on it at all. There are lots of other ways to get exercise.”

The most common trampoline-related injury that Loder sees at Riley is an elbow fracture, which in some cases requires immediate surgery. Knee fractures that threaten growth plates and require surgery also are common, he said.

On average, patients were 9 years old; though those who have injuries of the spine, head, ribs and sternum — accounting for 4% of the injuries seen — had an average age of nearly 17, perhaps because they are bigger and can jump harder.

The study looked only at backyard trampolines and did not include trampoline parks. Almost all of the fractures, 95%, happened at the injured person’s home.

Loder does not question the appeal of trampolines, just whether they’re worth the risk.

“I’m sure they’re fun,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it that they’re fun. They’re fun up until the time they get the injury.”