10,000 Hours…

If you’re anything like me, a recovering perfectionist, you get really annoyed when you can’t do something well, naturally. I remember it back in school. I was a natural academic but not naturally athletic. I would get very annoyed and frustrated when I couldn’t play baseball in gym class or shoot hoops flawlessly like the jocks. Who knows why, but many of us have this idea that was carried with us throughout school and adulthood, that most skills come naturally and if they don’t, that there’s something inherently wrong with us. I’d accredit this idea to our upbringing by parents who expected perfection and rewarded us based on this “accomplishment” system…but I digress. We think skills, even those we are gifted with, come to us naturally, as if it doesn’t take hours of sweat and toil to make us “great”.

We all have some natural skill or aptitude in something; stunning business acumen, sports, or music. And many times we feel that that innate natural ability is all that will carry us into success. But we forget a huge component to making it to that genius or success level in our talent. Practice.

It seems so boring yet so rehearsed. Practice.  You heard it in school, over and over, “practice makes perfect”. Is there actually something to that phrase or is it just bologna? According to Malcolm Gladwell, there’s a magic number to reaching the mastery level in any skill. 10,000 hours. It takes 10,000 hours of practice doing something to become an expert. 10,000 hours of speaking, writing, singing, marketing…etc. And I think we forget this main ingredient when we pursue our natural gifts. Because they are so natural to us, we feel almost as if becoming “great” in it should just come, well, naturally. But that’s very deceiving. Just because something comes natural to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t or won’t require practice. It seems so obvious that effort would be a necessary ingredient for success but it’s so easily overlooked, probably because it’s so simple… not easy, but simple.

I remember as a new working person in the professional world, being yet again annoyed that I wasn’t at the level of my superiors. But yet again, it’s practice, it’s time. Of course those that have been in the business world for twenty years have an edge over someone who has been alive twenty years… it seems so clear that it takes time and rehearsal to hone in on our skills to achieve mastery.

So if you are gifted want to be a “great” writer, write. You want to be a great business person, put in the time prospecting. Don’t get discouraged that it takes time, that it requires practice. That’s why we had band practice, track practice, etc. We even called it “practice” in school, and I don’t think that was a mistake.

Keep practicing, don’t despise the process. When we see the greatness of others exhibited, we don’t see the hours of toil, of failure, we only see the end product. But it took them also, 10,000 hours…

Put in the time to become a master.



photocredit: http://kayleadershipacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/10K-where-to-apply.jpg.


Not an overly creative title, but you get the point. Have you ever tried to walk a dog, and they just didn’t want to go. Every inch you went, you pulled on that leash, willing for that stubborn hound to move, and he just wouldn’t budge? Well, we’ve all had that moment with an animal, but what about with other people?

Have you tried helping someone get a job, or get out of debt, or gave them a piece of marital advice, and they just blew you off? They acted like they might be listening, but the whole time they did, their heart was just not in what nuggets of wisdom you were sharing. I’ve done that many times, and then felt insulted that my advice wasn’t heeded or help not welcomed. Why won’t they just listen? I’ve been through this before, what I’m saying makes perfect sense…

And that all might be true. What you’re saying and explaining might be spot on. But there’s many different reasons why others just might not act on your advice.

1. They may not be ready to hear it.
Sometimes other people are going through circumstances that make them impervious to what you’re saying. They hear your words but it makes no connection with their heart. They simply are not ready.

2. They just don’t care.
Not all people are motivated and want to be better. Let’s just admit it. Sometimes mediocrity is the goal, and self-improvement, well… why bother?

3. They feel ashamed listening to your advice.
It can be intimidating to listen to someone on their “high horse” talk about how they figured something out while this other person is learning. It can be humbling. It’s not that they don’t want your advice, but it’s just hard to hear.

Whatever the reason, stop casting your pearls of wisdom to those that don’t seek you out. If someone wants to change, they’ll have the initiative to start and make the first move. But handing out help, when it’s not wanted is a waste of your time and efforts. Use those efforts for those that value your perspective and want to win.