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10,000 hours 03/06/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in Success.
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I will normally limit this blog to technical issues directly within my experience. I will avoid any long rants about traffic, poorly organized restaurants, spoiled food at the grocery store, and people who talk to much. However, I have just found out the secret of success. Let me say that louder:

The Secret of Success
The secret to becoming an expert in something turns out to be 10,000 hours. That works out to 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 10 years.

I am listening to the new book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Let me digress for a second with a quick talk about listening to books. I am a member of Audible.Com, so that I can cheaply download books to my iPod or iPhone. I listen to them on the way home while fighting traffic (insert your own traffic rant here). It is a fantastic service in that they keep my library as a backup, so I can re-load books on newer computers, or ones that I’ve fixed. I listen to books for self improvement, not the Science Fiction books I normally read.

He describes many people, with different job descriptions, who became successful because of their preparation. He claims that success has less to do with talent than simple repitition. Bill Gates had tremendous opportunities for programming when he was young; he got in his 10,000 hours in time to take advantage of a new technology. The Beatles put in their 10,000 hours on stage. Look at professional piano players, violinists, hockey players, the list goes on.

For anyone out there who still has the ability to focus 10,000 hours of their life on a single activity, I say “Do It”. This has got me incredibly excited. Want to know why I am such a good programmer? I got my first computer at 13. I learned Cobol, Pascal, and RPG in high school. I majored in Computer Science in college, and then got my first real job doing programming support. I easily put in 10,000 hours.

I am encouraging my kids to think about what they want to do. My daughter might be an author, I told her to write. It doesn’t matter what she writes, it will get better over time – 10,000 hours worth of time.

If you are older, have a family, a mortgage, and adult responsibilities, you may not think you have time for that 10,000 hours. It does seem a daunting task. However, in this economy why not try? Even a little preparation has got to be better than none. Who knows where it will take you.