Poker players are familiar with hot streaks—times where it just seems the cards consistently fall their way. But we also talk about hot streaks when it comes to athletic skill, for things like hitting in baseball and shooting in basketball. Now, a group of researchers would like to add a few more activities where hot streaks take place: science, art, and movie making.
The researchers analyzed the production of high-impact work in those fields, and they find that it tends to cluster in a single time period. And, for most people, getting hot once is all they can hope for—getting hot twice is not common, and multiple hot streaks are extremely rare.
Random or streaky?
The work was an attempt to make sense of two seemingly contradictory results from past studies. Some had suggested peak productivity in creative fields tended to occur in a cluster around the middle of people’s careers. Other studies had indicated that people’s best work seemed to occur randomly throughout their careers.