Saturday, July 14, 2012

You too can be successful in only 10,000 hours!



When I worked at Borders The Tipping Point was one of those books that we always had in stock in abundance, and one that people were always looking for. We shelved it in the business section though, so I had no interest. I don't read those types of books; I'm a writer. I read novels, and poetry, and I dabble in history and science, and philosophy and...and well, anything BUT business books- or romance novels.

So, I judged The Tipping Point by the company it kept on the shelf, and its author as a result. But then I found myself in possession of this free copy of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, so I figured I might as well read it.

I was hooked from the first paragraph. It's an easy read, but an interesting one. Gladwell looks into the lives of select groups of successful people and shows how talent is really only where you start from. In order to be truly successful you need a combination of hard work and opportunity. Which is pretty much what our parents have been telling us our entire lives, isn't it? It never really sank in with me though.

I've had issues with hard work for pretty much my entire life. Any time something was difficult, instead of telling myself that I just need to keep working at it, I told myself that it was hard because I wasn't good enough, or smart enough. I'm not entirely sure where I picked that up, or if I made it up, but it has had a pretty powerful impact on my life. I gravitate towards the things that are are easy and shy away from challenges, even if, and maybe especially if, it is something that I really want to do. -I am trying to change that though.

Let's take, for example, the guitar that has been quietly judging me from the corner of my bedroom since my parents gave it to me for Christmas 4 years ago. I was excited when I first got it, I mean, I did ask for it. The problem is I wanted to play guitar; I didn't want to learn how to play guitar. I tried to teach myself a song (the aptly named "Please, please, please, let me get what I want this time") found it challenging, and decided that meant that I wasn't capable of mastering this instrument.

Look ma! Guitar hands! (see I HAVE been practicing!)

Outliers gives me hope though. According to Malcolm Gladwell all I have to do is log 10,000 hours of practice and I'll make this guitar my bitch. If I practice 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, I'll be performing at Carneige Hall by my 52nd birthday.

Enjoy the spotlight while you can, Esteban. In 20 years I'm coming for you!

So the moral of the story is A- Go ahead and judge a book by it's cover (there really are some truly terrible covers out there) but not by it's shelving. I'm reading The Tipping Point now and it's quite fascinating as well!

B- Practice, practice, practice and I'll see you at Carnegie Hall.

oh yeah, and C- Read Outliers and let me know what you think!

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