You know when I started to get to grips with what it’d take for me to make anything of myself? When I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I lost count of the number of ‘a-ha!’ moments I had while reading it, but I think for anyone familiar with the book, the concept of 10,000 hours stands out the most. That is, essentially, the key to success in whatever field, is to practice that specific task for around 10,000 hours. You know my first thought? That’s a long ass time. In a culture that’s so fast paced, where we want everything yesterday, how can we really put in the work when we want the end game immediately?
See, it kind of goes against everything we’ve been taught. In movies, when someone sucks at something, there’s a movie montage showing them practicing it (accompanied by some cheesy music) and a few minutes later, they rock at it. That wasn’t 10,000 hours of practice. Rarely does a montage show years of practice, work, hardship, rejection and struggle. It just cuts to the good bit, where it has been mastered in as short a time as possible. Sucks at board games? Three minutes later – world class chess champion.
In reality, unless you have an incredible capacity to pick things up quickly, you’re gonna have to work at it a while.
As many a wise one will tell you, there is no short cut to success. Learning your craft is important. You might want the grand masterplan to come together faster, but the universe has a multitude of ways to throw road blocks up and let you know you need to slow your roll.
I think this culture of everyone wanting everything without putting the work in is also related to society’s obsession with youth. Young people feel an incredible pressure to reach the end game of whatever ‘success’ means to them as quickly as possible. Because, if you hit 30 without being world recognised in your field, obviously, your life comes to a screeching halt.
I have two words for you my friends: Susan Boyle.
Susan Boyle was no overnight success. That woman worked her ass off at her craft for years. She cared for her mother, probably sung around the house endlessly, she sung in local choirs, at karaoke at her pubs in her area, she’d had professional demos done, she’d faced rejection. Only at the end of a very long road, did she finally make it to the stage of Britain’s Got Talent. Homegirl more than put in her 10,000 hours. All those years working on her craft has more than paid off.
You can try and fast track it if you want, but eventually, you’ll stumble. If you make it and suddenly you’re sparring with the big dogs and you don’t fully know what you’re doing, you haven’t put your 10,000 hours in to perfect it and be able to stand in that moment with confidence, then you’ll be slapped back down to the bottom rung of the ladder by way of a reality check.
Take your time, put the hours in. In the end, it’s worth it.