I finally got around to reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a fascinating book looking at very successful people and shows that it is not just their individual skills and talent that got them where they are. As Publisher’s Weekly states, “Gladwell tears down the myth of individual merit to explore how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success—and how historical legacies can hold others back despite ample individual gifts.”
That might sound discouraging to those of us looking for more success, it might make you think that you just aren’t lucky enough to be successful, however, that is not the message that I took away from the book.
Early in the book, the author states that people who are extremely successful at what they do, all have one certain thing in common. They have spent a huge amount of time practicing their craft. According to Gladwell, the magic number is 10,000 hours of practice. Be it music (Mozart and the Beatles) or computer programming (Bill Gates), the supersuccessful spent had not just luck and favorable circumstances, but much more persistence than your average person.
What this tells me is that you really can accomplish quite a bit with hard work and persistence. Those who see the opportunities that are available to them, who persist through difficulties and spend the time to master every aspect of what they do, are the ones who will be successful.
I find this encouraging. It tells me that the “outliers” were not just born that way. They may have started with just a small amount of talent, they may have gotten “lucky”, but ultimately it was their hard work and persistance that brought them to success. In other words, if they can do it I can do it!
So how long does it take to become a master? Not just an expert, mind you, but a master? You would need to practice 2 hours and 44 minutes, every day of the year, for 10 years to get to 10,000 hours. That might seem like a long time, but is it really? When you consider that those 10 years will go by anyway, wouldn’t you like to find yourself 10 years later with complete mastery of what you do?
So keep your eyes open for the opportunities that present themselves to you. Find your passion and work diligently towards your goals and you might just find that 10 years from now, you are the Outlier.