10 000 Hours

Cover of "Outliers: The Story of Success&...
Cover of Outliers: The Story of Success

I’m reading a very interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Outliers.  In it he states that there is no such thing as an inherent talent, but its the amount of time devoted to doing a task that will ensure success.  And that time it seems is 10 000 hours.

He speaks about the success of The Beatles – one of the biggest bands of all time and how they used to play in Hamburg, Germany before hitting the big time.  And the amount of time played – well, about 10 000 hours.

Malcolm Gladwell also speaks about Bill Gates and how he had the opportunity to program at school and it worked out that Bill Gates practised programming for about 10 000 hours before making his millions.

I remember having a debate at college with a friend of mine and his argument was that if we lived long enough, and death wasn’t ever something to worry about, we could all learn to any and everything.  Given enough time.  I argued that some people just have a natural aptitude for something and no matter how long we live, we will never learn to do some things.  Some people, for example, can easily pick up a foreign language.  Others simply just cannot.  While I do think that some people do have a natural aptitude for certain things, I now think that given enough time anyone can learn to do anything.

But, then my thoughts went a little more sinister than that.

What if you spent 10 000 hours perfecting an art to something you didn’t intend to?  Well, like drug taking or alcoholism or an eating disorder?  Because of whatever anxiety, obsession or compulsion you have, you focused on something negative in your life and now that is so apart of you that you can’t shake it.  Like a concert pianist will always love, play and understand the piano.

I didn’t like that thought.

So, I wondered how we could undo 10 000 hours of a negative influence in our lives.  And the only thought I could come to was that we first have to focus on something positive for 10 000 hours to negate the negative – erase it out.  And then another 10 000 hours for that positive to be truly reflective in who we are.  And the moral of my story – well, don’t walk down that negative road.  You have to turn back, get yourself back to the starting point BEFORE you can even begin a positive impact on your own life.

Rather start from the word go focusing on the positive – a new hobby, reading, making friends, learning a foreign language.  Don’t waste your time and energy on the negative – life is simply too short.

The Baby Mama


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