In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, he stated that to achieve mastery in an area, it generally takes about 10,000 hours of serious learning, practice, and skill development.
I think it’s a valid conclusion, but there’s more to the story.
If you want to be famous for something, to be at the forefront, you have to establish yourself as world class. You want to be one of the best violinists? 10,000 hours. You want to make a living as a pro golfer? 10,000 hours.
But there’s a way around this brutal reality.
How many violinists in the world might aspire, at least at one point, to be the best? I’d guess it’s at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions. The same for golfers. So the big problem is that you’re battling against a bunch of other very dedicated, bright, and talented people.
The other way to go is to be so focused, so innovative, that you’re truly unique. Let’s say that you’re part of a growing community of underwater hula-hoop dancers. Go ahead and laugh – I just made that up – but I see there’s a Youtube video out there already.
You can imagine that it wouldn’t take 10,000 hours to become one of the best, because, well, there’s so few people who care to invest ANY effort in this specialty. If you wanted to, you could become one of the best.
Why would you want to?
- Maybe it’s interesting to you, a way of showing your uniqueness in the world.
- You might meet interesting people on this strange journey.
- It makes you interesting and memorable, even newsworthy.
If you’re memorable and newsworthy, that can give you a launching point for success elsewhere in your life. Imagine creating a series of books entitled “The Underwater Hula-Hooper’s Guide to ….” It’s interesting, a bit quirky – and memorable.
The key to making this idea work is to attach it to something else which makes sense, and is growing. It’s easy to be the best if you’re the only one, and really appreciated when it becomes a significant trend. But even if you’re among the leaders in a new idea, you can ride that wave of growth that others are creating.
IF you’re part of that community. IF you’re contributing in useful ways. IF you step up to taking leadership roles.
I’ve had a lot of fun riding these kinds of waves myself, both on the job and in my personal life. I enjoy the learning, and the camaraderie of people who enjoy doing innovative things together.
And it’s a way to bring my uniqueness to the world.
by Carl Dierschow