In other words, expert performance applies to piano and chess very well, but a diversity of backgrounds is more important for things like management or R&D more broadly.
I'd be curious what qualifies as "ambiguity" and "diversity of background" however. Is that simply a collection of smaller expertises that you can pull from? Many domains have a degree of ambiguity to them - how do you create a musical masterpiece? how do you beat your chess opponent? Knowing "the moves" only ensures you can implement a plan.
If you're unable to utilize an opportunity, which takes skill, or are unable to recognize an opportunity, which also takes skill, you're out of luck.
I remember in particular a duscussion about music students practicing for an optimum, or maybe maximum, number of hours per day. I'm in math and there are a number of people in math who also say four is the limit; a quick google found this for example https://theweek.com/articles/696644/why-should-work-4-hours-.... FWIW.
Also well-konwn are the first two paragraphs of Littlewood's Miscellany, https://www.gwern.net/docs/math/1986-littlewood-littlewoodsm..., p 189.
Remarkably, the same material that stupefied me just prior to "shorting out" would become crystal clear the next morning. I think the brain needs to be pushed up to a certain limit before it considers the material important enough to be worth of serious "structural changes". The pay-off is non-linear.
The difficult part is that you might be tempted to quit because you're "tired", even before you actually hit the wall, but then blowing past the limit in a fit of zealotry just destroys motivation without any extra benefit. The balance is hard to find. The best I came up with is try to observe my performance diminishing and use that as an "objective" signal. Easier in some areas than others.
Very much in line with what one reads in Barbara Oakley's "A Mind for Numbers," and her free Coursera course based on the book (both recommended).
And this is nicely actionable. When learning a new task, it can be very valuable to consider how to evaluate success.
By that I mean can we do more than one thing per day.
like crop rotation (or your analogy of choice), the brain needs to be engaged in different ways at different times.
after hours of programming i am exhausted, but i can easily play an instrument for a few more hours, or do housework, etc...
And one can use overlapping synergies. Like hiking/running to let your brain creates solutions on the go :D
I don’t know of a study that estimates the maximum number of productive hours over a varied workload such as running a startup. There clearly is a limit, but it’s high — maybe 90 hrs/wk for motivated people.
In practice, it’s the neglecting of other things like relationships and exercise that kicks in before mental energy limits.
Even if it’s a factoid, based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence from colleagues, 4h is a good approximation.
I will admit though, that there’s a confounding variable here, that is how much your coworkers value your time. When I worked 4h or 6h workdays, everyone considered my time to carry a premium, so they avoided interrupting me if they could.
Is it ~slow paced work, no rushing but constantly walking ideas and attempts ?
Can they endure 90 hours of hard dead ends / frustration / disappointment ? Or is it 90hours of tangible progress (lets include small dead ends that provide nice references for more ideas) and pleasure ?
Calling up restaurants and trying to get them to switch to your booking software is shallow work. Needing to sit down and program the complete back end of that booking software including testing by Friday is deep work.
You can only do so much deep work before your reserves of energy are depleted.
> The connection between deep work and flow should be clear: Deep work is an activity well suited to generate a flow state (the phrases used by Csikszentmihalyi to describe what generates flow include notions of stretching your mind to its limits, concentrating, and losing yourself in an activity—all of which also describe deep work). And as we just learned, flow generates happiness. Combining these two ideas we get a powerful argument from psychology in favor of depth. Decades of research stemming from Csikszentmihalyi’s original ESM experiments validate that the act of going deep orders the consciousness in a way that makes life worthwhile."
Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 85). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Running a startup is a whole bunch of shallow work most of the time.
Work where you have to get into "the zone" to get it done, that's not 90 hours per week. Or likely even 19.
I can definitely believe theres rapid diminishing returns after an hour when practicing things that require physical activity.
If you have not yet seen the extremely talented composer and piano player Emily Bear perform the “Bumble Bear Boogie”, you are in for a treat.