Everybody has heard about the 10,000 hours rule myth, right? The chances are that you know what I’m talking about. That is, if you spend 10,000 hours of activity within a particular domain you’re bound to become a master in it. Now, if I was to ask about the origin of this myth, a significantly smaller number of people would be able to tell where its roots are. That’s why I call it a myth. Not because it’s fictional or untrue.
A while back I was riding to take off some time after busy, as usual, week, thinking about the 10,000 hours rule and how the ripples from the original experiment reached almost everybody striving for perfection in their craft in rather obscure form. I think the 10khs rule can present too big of a mountain to climb and is a paradigm that may become a discouraging argument on ones journey to improvement. Reaching 10khs mark is not a guarantee. Progress comes down to the quality of attention, as well as conscious reflection on ones progress and clear vision of the goal. Having that in mind I believe that right materials, right mentors and focus can take us much faster to the point which 10khs mark holy grail supposed to be.
Let’s look how a myth can help us reach the mountain, working with the cause and not with the effect (10khs of practice is an effect of a mastery mindset, not a cause).
Myths used to play a vital role throughout human history and a significant amount of wisdom contained in them often told us about archetypes of heroes that have been bearers of the most virtuous values. Through his path the hero would reveal a particular trait that made him prevail.
What then makes heroes?
- Hard Work – Hard is not supposed to mean unbearable. While certain degree of leaning beyond comfort zone is necessary, not enjoying the process is self-defeating and is a strong indication that what we are trying to do is not what we ought to be doing (or in some cases in How we should be doing it). No doubt sustained effort is a pre-requisite for mastery. I remember being in a Q&A session with a two times olympic decathlon winner Daley Thompson, where he talked about his preparatory routine, which consisted of 50 weeks of 8 hours per day training with two weeks off per year. At this rate, three years and you’re there!
- Perseverance – every man has his own path, as such your one was not yet walked. That means obstacles fill the way. To walk the path is to overcome obstacles.
- Loneliness – it’s not often that the hero is made in a boarding school for and of heroes (or grew up in a family of heroes to the like of The Incredibles or Jupiter’s Legacy). Chances are people around you will not share the same urge to give that exceptional amount of energy into the stuff that makes heroes. Most likely they will create negative gravity field by pulling you back away from the path casting their own doubts into the pool that’s full of obstacles already. It is a lonely path, but, as it’s been said: “You will not take your friends with you to the grave”. It takes conscious effort to know when and who to share our aspirations with. A right ally or a mentor can transcend the journey, a wrong one will be like a ball and chain.
- Burning Desire – it’s something that won’t let you sleep. Without it you won’t be able to deal with the previous three. In fact, without it, you won’t see the point of the other three. Burning Desire is Inspiration. Inspiration is Love. It can be as simple as asking ourselves a question “What do I love to do?”. Not “What do I like?” or “What would my family or friends love me to do?” Burning desire is the fire that lights the path. It’s like a flame in the dark. To paraphrase Wallace D. Wattles – it shows the path of unexpressed possibility within, that’s seeking expression without, through my action.
- Courage – Fear is in direct opposition to Inspiration. Without courage we can’t have faith that the path that lights up for us is within our reach. Of course, there is no guarantees, that’s why it’s called the Unknown. There is no guarantee that a bus won’t kill you tomorrow. Failure is part of the process. It’s part of the movement. There’s no success without failure. Developing trust in the unknown changed the way I look to encourage myself when I need to.
Master = Hero
Mind all that, as explained in the Illusion Of Tomorrow, time doesn’t exits. We can make a clause to that concept and say it does’t exist outside of action (movement). For that reason, being passive doesn’t make our 10khs clock tick.
Let’s play Rough Estimates:
70 years is 70 x 365 (days) x 24 (hours) = 598,080 hours to play with.
Let’s say you haven’t really made your mind up until you were 30 (256,320 hours).
598,080h – 256,320h = 341,760h – 225,561h (2/3 of that time spent for sleep & work) = 116,199 hours left, meaning that you could become a master in 11 domains and an expert (over 6,000 hours) in 1 by the time of your 70th birthday. That’s a hero ten times over and many of us would be fine with being just a casual, run of the mill, bread and butter, first grade master/hero indeed.
Don’t fall into the fragmentation sink hole analysing it any further. You DO have enough time to unleash your mastery now the key is to develop the Burning Desire that will set you on the path.
To all (…) I wish to convey the thought that all achievement, no matter what may be its nature, or its purpose, must begin with an intense, BURNING DESIRE for something definite.
If you don’t know how and what to do then working this out is going to be the best invested time. Just remember, as Deepak Chopra says “Sometimes the biggest questions you can ask yourself come down to a very simple question: What shall I do today?”.
Once you figured out your Path of Inspiration, make a plan. Some plans are made for you. The tax plan and your pension plan are the ones. While it’s true that we are not 100% in control of our lives, it’s also true than we are creating our lives by responding to circumstances. More so, by responding to them we re-create them. Our responses can be dictated by the sort of plan we lay, rather than on arbitrary decisions based on nothing in particular but a whim inside a fleeting moment, not unlike being a boat without a rudder in a middle of an ocean. Taking 100% responsibility for our lives is the first step to mastery.
Parts of this post came to me as insights after reading a newsletter from Phil Bennett. Phil is teaching music composition skills and if you feel this is something you’d like to improve, check out his website: Phil Bennetts. There’s some great information he sends out in his newsletter too.