Friday, November 21, 2008

10,000 Hours

Ode To Joy collage Lydia Konstanski 2008

Reader’s Digest ran an article on the new book Outliers which fascinates me.
Malcolm Gladwell researched highly successful people such as Bill Gates and Tiger Woods to see where the commonalities lie. His main conclusion is that one of the main causes behind their successes, alongside natural talent, passion, and good old-fashioned hard work, was an accumulation of advantages. In other words, what success your parents, grands, and great-grands had adds up to more success with you, and maybe even more with your children. 

In a sense I can see that. My mother has spent her whole life doing needlework and she taught me pretty much everything she knew at the time before I left home. I, in turn, went to F.I.T. and accumulated more advantages and that should make me wildly successful if I apply it correctly. We shall see. The investment my mother made in me made things easier for me in school, and no mistake.

Another common link was the time each success story spent pursuing their field before they became famous or successful. In Gate’s case, how many hours he spent programming in school before he got a corporate job. In Tiger’s case, how much time playing golf. “10,000 hours seems to be the magic number,” the article says. Wow. Their parents and schools gave them freedom to focus so much energy into their passion from the get-go. In this sense I feel similarly blessed by both my parents and my husband. Think about it: That’s 416.6 twenty-four hour days; more than a year of your life! But you also sleep, so we’ll cut it down to twelve-hour days: 833.3 of them, or 2.3 years seven days a week. If you have a social life, and you only pursue your craft 8 hours a day, it is 1,250 days. Working 5 days a week adds up to close to 5 years.

One must question what success truly is. After all, being CEO might not be the most effective or meaningful thing you could be. Still, it bears consideration. Have I spent my ten thousand hours at the things I care for most?

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