Putting your time in
Next week I head off to the Huntsman World Senior Games where I will play in the Men’s Singles Tennis Tournament. In 2007 I played and won the gold for the 60-64 age group. This adventure in tennis competitions started as a goal to reach the top of the tennis rankings for my age group in my state of Utah. And I did that, last year. How did I manage this, after dealing with arthritic hips that hardly allowed me to bend or run even half way down the block? Well, surgery helped but mostly it was just simple hard work.
The process of attaining a goal includes more than just defining your goal and planning your steps. Reaching a goal requires time–the breadth of time it will take for you to amass the knowledge & experience you will need to attain your specific goal and, most importantly, the hours you put in working at it, practicing what you know, until you’ve mastered what you need to reach it. Nothing happens without those many hours of work.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, he spends a entire chapter discussing what he calls the 10,000 hour rule. The idea is that you need to concentrate your energies for 10,000 hours to be the very best at whatever it is you have set as a goal. That’s 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for 5 years. That is quite a commitment, concentrating on that one thing for that long. Most people won’t go that far and that’s why anyone willing to put in that kind of time will find themselves the very best in the world!
Being smart or having a particular talent is certainly helpful, but the most successful people aren’t necessarily, or even usually, the smartest or most talented. They are the ones who put in the time and mastered the skills they needed to succeed.