Thursday, April 02, 2009

10,000 Hours

The other day I read Orson Scott Card's latest review column. He reviews a book by Malcolm Gladwell entitled "Outliers: The Story of Success". Success, it seems, does not necessarily come from intelligence or circumstance:
But it's more than talent, and more than luck. How about 10,000 hours?

The number is approximate, but that's about how much practice and work the "geniuses" put into their careers to take them over the threshold into the big leagues.

Sure, there's some natural talent or aptitude. But then comes decision time -- are you going to really do this, or just continue plinking around at it?

Musicians. Painters. Writers. Mathematicians. Computer programmers. Game designers. Actors. Singers. They don't sit around feeling good about themselves and building up their self-esteem. They do the work. They put in the time.

So let's assume this is true. 10,000 hours is approximately 5 years if you put in 8 hours a day. I'm nearly 40. By that standard, I should be able to be successful at 8 different things by now.

Now I realize that's not a fair assessment to make. But the point I'm trying to get to is this: I may have skills that I could be successful in, even if I haven't consciously been developing those skills. I think we all could. So is it that far off to think that if I were to find a way to link several of those skills together in marketable form that I could indeed become wildly successful if I devote another five years to developing and channeling that combination?

I don't think so. It makes sense. It feels right. I have a goal that by the end of this year I am going to know exactly what my next 10,000 hours is going to go towards. Five years from now I'm going to be successful at something, even if it's considerably different from what I'm doing now.

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