The Art of Winning Blog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Master Lesson Pt. 1

10,000 hours.
10,000 hours of your life.
That’s a pretty big number.

Many people have said that this is what it takes to be a master. A new book called “Outliers” states that people who are highly recognized in their fields have close to or at least 10,000 hours performing and training in that field. Over the years, I have met plenty of people who have said that they have heard and understand this concept. I have also met people who say that mastery can come a lot sooner — at least at 5,000 hours. Either way, I always wonder has a person really ever thought about the reality of that number?

Let’s put in perspective what it would take for a person to actually live this reality. Let’s say you spend 5 hours a day, 6 days a week training in a particular field. That means you spend 30 hours a week doing that particular activity. If you take that 30 hours a week and multiply it by 4 weeks then you have 120 hours a month. Next, multiply 120 by 12 months and you will come up with 1,440 hours a year. Finally, if you multiple 1,440 by 7 years you come up with 10,080 hours. Even at 5,000 hours for mastery you are looking at 3.5 years. Now that we have seen the numbers broken down, let’s be honest about the average American’s life. How often have we met a person who can dedicate 5 hours a day, 6 days a week to training in one particular field. You will probably not be able to think of too many people. Most people you will think of may be able to dedicate 1 hour a day, 3 days a week. If you do the math, then it will take 288 hours a year which means 2,880 hours in 10 years.

Because of this large difference in numbers, you can see that unless a person sets up there life so that their livelihood revolves around their training, then gaining mastery based on time invested in one skill is very difficult. This is why Olympians have no other jobs and sports all stars rarely work outside of training. Think about those you consider masters in something and review what it is they spend most of their time doing. Now that we have broken down the time it takes to gain mastery, another aspect is quality training time. The saying “practice makes perfect” is not completely true. It is like studying and watching television and texting at the same time. Studies have proven the amount of actual information a person will retain while engaging in other activities while studying is less effective and normally more time consuming, than focused undistracted training study time. For this reason, the phrase “perfect practice, makes perfect,” was born. This phrase points to a direct relation of how dedicated quality practice with little distractions will enhance performance in a shorter time. Upon the completion of this brief study of what it takes for true mastery, the next time you say “I want to be a master,” think about what that would really take. This honest perception will start you on the right path to your goal. You can fake it or you can make it, but making it takes time and dedication, not short cuts.

By Hakim Isler

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