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Knowing what to work on is certainly more important than trying to brute force all problems with man hours, but unless you've spent hours and hours of hard work learning your field, you won't KNOW what to work on.

The only reason the Caterina people knew what to work on this time is because of the hundreds of hours of experience they got building flickr.

The importance of hard work to success is extremely well documented: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/08/02/...




I think that the problem is the term "hard work".

I've spend a tremendous amount of time learning those fields that I enjoy and am successful at. But a lot of that time has felt more like 'play' or 'exploration' or curiosity than 'hard work'.

Hard evokes doggedly trying a thousand elements with only the hope that they might create light.

I am sure that Tesla spent at least as much time and energy as Edison in pursuing his field. It also seems he brought more play and imagination to it. And Tesla's inventions were the big ones that made electricity practical - the electric motor, the generator, alternating current, etc.

I think that argument isn't so spending time and energy but rather against thinking that merely putting forth time energy is enough....

I great interpretation of Malcolm Gladwell's 10000 hours that I came across somewhere is "Don't be concerned with practicing 10000 hours at something - be concerned with finding something you enjoy so much that you don't notice when the 10000 hours have passed"

Gladwell popularized the "10,000 hours rule", but he didn't invent it. It's originally from a paper by K. Anders Ericsson on "deliberate practice" [1]. It cites a ton of other research in the area and is definitely worth reading if you liked Outliers.

[1] http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracti...

Yep. Alternative phrasing: it's not about how much you work but how immersed you get. That's what you have to optimize for. If it was just about how much work you get done startups would get done in twice the time if you worked at half the pace. But the result qualitatively changes if you never get immersed enough to find the important insights. Hard work is just a means. If it takes real work to find immersion, don't mess with that.

The danger of saying, "I don't need to work too hard," and scaling back on things that seem like dead ends is that they impact immersion. Dead ends are often useful in intangible ways.

Trevor Blackwell calls this tinkering (http://tlb.org/busywork.html)

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