Resonant Thoughts: Ron Friedman’s “Decoding Greatness” (2021)

“It’s noteworthy that the first action a computer program designed to detect patterns undertakes is not to analyze but to collect. Which is consistent with how many writers, musicians, and designers view themselves: not as master craftsmen but as collectors. They consume voraciously, pursue obsessively, and accumulate influences the way chefs hunt for ingredients.”

“The most effective practice regimens avoid extended repetition, even if that means spending less time working on a target skill. Instead they harness the power of novelty and shake things up by blending an assortment of tasks, which results in sharper learning and stronger performance.”

– Ron Friedman, Decoding Greatness (2021)

2 thoughts on “Resonant Thoughts: Ron Friedman’s “Decoding Greatness” (2021)

  1. Interesting. The quote mentions two things I’ve observed in myself and have always considered oddities and likely weaknesses. Many (most?) musicians for example are able to list a small number influences, such as two or three at the most. I would have a hard time making a list as there are so many and their impact varies month to month. I tend to think: if one has a hundred influences, does one really have any?

    I also think that I should have repeated and deepened practice on musician and musical skills. But then there is an advantage to “cross-training” too.

    1. Right. I would also lean towards having many influences. The book suggests that a multitude of influences allows one to see broad patterns. As for practice, I suppose there are always opportunities for building skills, and cross-disciplinary ones are the richest kind.

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