I recently picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller book “The Outliers” and somehow got myself past the second chapter even though I don’t usually enjoy reading non-fiction. It is quite a page-turner, honestly, with true stories and life examples, but I am not here to write a review because… ehm, I still haven’t started the third chapter. Shame.
So, what’s so interesting about the second chapter?
The whole book speaks about how successful people reached their success, but the second chapter exposes especially about the 10,000 hours rule. The rule says, in order to be extraordinary, one has to practice (a particular skill) for at least 10,000 hours. Normally, it would take one 9-11 years to finally reach 10,000 hours of practice. Some people would never make it due to not having enough money or having to work long hours. Thus, only a handful of people can make it to the top.
The chapter went on explaining how Bill Gates, The Beatles, and some famous athletes reached their 10,000 hours mark. The point is, it was the amount of practice that counts, not the moment they found their breakthrough. We are so blinded by our search for “Eureka” we are forgetting that what’s important is not the heavenly door to success but the path leading to that door. In other words, we have to “walk” 10,000 steps before we reach the door and recognize/make sense/make use/have what it takes to open the damn door! All this time we’ve been looking for/at the door but not the path!
And then, it had me thinking: What have I practiced for at least 10,000 hours? What have YOU practiced? Do you know that 10,000-hours equals doing the exact same thing nonstop for 555 days with only 6-hours of sleep everyday?
For me, I am very sure it is not playing piano.
I hate piano. I like singing but it’s not that either. Reading? Writing? Facebook-ing? Watching movies? Yep, watching movies it is. What does that make me? A professional couch potato. Eurekaaaaaaa.
Certainly, I have spent a great deal of time reading, writing, and managing small business – yes, also (shamelessly) chatting on the phone and watching TV series – but it is nowhere near 10,000 hours! And even if it has, I still don’t know what to make of it. I might be better than some people but that’s far cry from star quality. Therefore, it is about time I find myself some skill to practice on. Nobody wants to be that guy who knows a little of everything but excelling in nothing. Everybody wants to be that guy who is well-known for one special thing.
Is this post helping me (or you) in anyway? I don’t know. But I’d love to look back and realize that writing this post marked my day one. Or at least, hour one.