When looking at what makes someone successful, writer Malcolm Gladwell states in his book Outliers that the key to mastering any skill is a dedication to practicing it. Specifically, Gladwell believes that it takes about 10,000 hours to reach mastery.
Let’s put that into perspective. I’m 22 years old and have been alive 8,329 days. I would need to have have walked an average of 72 minutes every day (since birth!) to have “mastered” the skill of walking. I’m not certain but I may still be on my way.
But in all seriousness, this means that doing something for an hour a day for over two decades will not be enough for you to reach the point of mastery. You need to let your passion consume you. You need to wake up in the morning and begin painting then not stand up until much later only to realize you’ve missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Recently Macklemore has inspired me more than any other artist. His song Ten Thousand Hours is inspired by Malcolm Gladwell and this theory.
"The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot”
Passion is the spark that drives people to become masters of their art.
Do you have a dream or a desire to learn a new skill or improve a current one?
I think most of us do.
The response to our dreams is far too often, “I can’t because…”
“…I’m not smart enough.”
“…I don’t have the time.”
“…I’m too old.”
“…I’m too young.”
The list of reasons can go on and on.
They aren’t reasons, they are excuses.
If you want to learn something new or improve on something you already know, there is little stopping you with the only exceptions being lack of money, resources (laboratory, spaceship, etc), or poor health.
Most of the time the problem isn’t being broke or in poor health-it’s laziness and fear.
The laziness that convinces you to be content with who you are currently.
The fear that if you try and fail you will have wasted time and possibly humiliated yourself in the process.
This is not unnatural. Do not be ashamed if you feel this way from time-to-time.
You must combat fear and laziness.
No time? If you are like the average internet-savvy individual you probably really don’t have much time because you waste it all online. Download RescueTime and run it nonstop. At first you will be disgusted with yourself. You should be (I was). Look at all of the time you spent browsing Facebook, HN, and the like. Think about the things you could have been doing; reading, learning to code, practicing an instrument, spending time with friends and family outdoors. The list of better activities can go on and on.
For the most part, the only thing stopping you from realizing your aspirations is yourself.
Work on changing that. It’s an ongoing process.
There should be cause for concern when musicians spend more time having photos taken of themselves than they do writing and releasing music. The same can be said for the hacker who talks about her million dollar ideas rather than pushing code or an up and coming NBA player seen more often at nightclubs than on the court practicing free throws.
There is nothing inherently sexy about hard work.
It is a grind.
It is made up of the hours you pour into what makes you the person you want to become.
It is a widely held belief that it takes 10,000 hours to master an art.
Many of those hours will not be glorious. Some of them will be downright ugly.
There is nothing sexier than the output that is the result of hard work.