“The journey is the reward.”
What do Mozart and the Beatles have in common besides music? The answer is simple: lots and lots of practice. Yes, we all know that Mozart was gifted at a very young age, but precisely because of that, by the time he reached adulthood, he had spent thousands of hours playing music. The same goes for the Beatles: by the time they hit America and rocketed to fame, they had been playing together continuously for seven years.
Where’s all this leading? To that mysterious place where mastery happens. And it turns out that it isn’t so mysterious after all. There’s a raft of new research that confirms the saying that “the only place where success comes before hard work is in the dictionary.” When it comes to mastering music or writing or jump shots, innate talent is only part of the story. Achievement is talent plus preparation. And the more the careers of gifted achievers in all fields are studied, the smaller the role of talent and the bigger the role of preparation turn out to be.
The key to excellence: 10,000 hours of concentrated practice. At least, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, that’s the number of hours you have to devote to practicing your craft or your game to achieve full mastery.
Wow! At first glance, 10,000 hours seems like a lot, doesn’t it? But let’s not forget, it’s the journey that counts: forward motion is everything. And to put it into perspective, remember that most people watch 20-to-30 hours of TV a week; over a year, that adds up to a lot of time. To me, what really counts is that mastery is more a matter of discipline and desire than DNA. That means the path to mastery is open to all of us. The only must-haves are passion and perseverance. Now that’s a sweet melody, indeed!