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Monday 14 March 2011

10,000 Hours

I was listening to the CBC radio recently. It’s a show called Ideas with Paul Kennedy. He was discussing the theory of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Where it states that you must put in 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert in anything. This does not explain my pitiful guitar playing. I have put in at least 10,000 hours over the past 40 years and still can’t play like Eric Clapton. Oh well. I do feel I have obtained a certain level of photographic expertise. But my skill level changes at a much slower rate these days. I guess now it’s more a matter of practicing my craft and pushing myself to keep growing, however subtle the changes may be.Light Reflections
Light Reflections - Click for larger

Some of Gladwell’s elements of success are:
  • Working harder than everyone else.
  • Noticing things that others don't.
  • Understanding your place in society.
So if you put in 10,000 hours, will you be one of the best? Clearly if I go back to my guitar skills this is not the case. If I trained for 10,000 hours, I would still not be a world-class runner. It isn't in the cards. So what’s the secret to success? Hard work? Talent and luck? Probably these are some of the ingredients. I’m sure there are many people at the genius level that have not achieved success. I’m not sure I buy into the whole IQ thing anyway. I think it's such a small measure of overall intelligence. I have been around some very smart people who can’t really function in our society. Genius can sometimes border on madness. The most successful people I know are the ones that didn’t give up. They are forever curious and have a bucket of passion for what they do. Capelin Weather
Capelin Weather - Click for larger

We had Nigel Dickson in to talk to our students recently and he mentioned the 10,000 hour theory. He has obviously put in his time and is one of the most creative photographers I know. But he felt it was easier to become successful when he started. He did say though that he put in many 18 hour days and loved every minute of it. He said passion is one of the most important factors. He also said, "The cream rises to the top, and then it goes off a little". Clever man…

Theories are one thing but there is a magical side to success. It’s not just hard work, it’s so much more.Canoe on Georgian Bay
Canoe on Georgian Bay - Click for larger

So you want to be a rock and roll star, a photographer, an artist? Put in your time and as my Dad always said, “You make your luck”.

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