How To Become An Expert – Insights from the Wilderness #173


How To Become An ExpertIt takes 10,000 hours to become an expert

Are you willing to put in that 10,000 hours of practice and training to become a successful expert in your field? Successful people will give you a yes to that question. They understand that the 10,000 Hour Rule is a metaphor not a hard and fast number. In other words, if our dream is to be come an expert and successful in some area of life, we must be prepared to put in a LOT of time honing down our natural gifts and talents through study, practice, and training.

Successful people know that waiting for success to “strike” like lightening, or waiting for someone to knock on their front door and present them with a success certificate, are not likely to happen. They understand that very few people win the lottery, and very few people get struck by lightening. They are willing to embrace reality. They know the 10,000 Hour Rule is the primary path to success.

How often do we look at a singer, or musician, or athlete and think to ourselves, “Wow, I wish I had that kind of talent”. What we fail to acknowledge is the 10,000 hours the person has invested in turning their natural talent into success.

We all have our gifts and strengths. Our work is to discover what those gifts and strengths are, deciding what we were meant to do with them, and then embracing a single-minded determination to roll up our sleeves and invest the 10,000 hours needed to perfect and hone them. Far too often we find ourselves reciting our well-rehearsed litany of all the limitations, gifts, and skills that we don’t have. All the reasons why we could never be that successful. We tell ourselves those people were really lucky. Unlike me they were born with great gifts. Over time, our litany slowly turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

We ruminate and rehearse the litany of our limitations because our primitive ego does not like to embrace the hard choices that are required to achieve success. It does not like change, difficult obstacles, hard work, or being disciplined. Our primitive ego would rather take the easy path; waiting for success, happiness, and meaning in life to find us.

Stated another way, our primitive ego would rather embrace luck and focus on stories like the person who smoked all their life, drank whisky, used drugs, was overweight, never exercised, never ate fruits or vegetables and lived to be 107 years of age; stories that encourage us to avoid the hard choices and the 10,000 hours we would need to invest in ourselves as we journey toward our goals. Like success, a healthy life requires 10,000 hours of healthy living.


The primary difference between those who are successful, and those who are not, is rarely a difference in the “gifts” they were born with. The primary difference between those who are successful, and those who are not, is the simply reality that successful people are willing to invest the 10,000 hours of hard work, dogged perseverance, and long hours striving for the excellence required to be “successful”.

If our goal in life is success and happiness, we will need to use the results of our 10,000 hours to embrace the deeper spiritual meaning that comes when we are committed to adding value to the lives of others and making the world around us a better place in which to live. Success is not about personal fame, wealth, prestige, or standing in the lime light. True success in life is knowing that our 10,000 hours made a difference.

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