1000 Hours

What can you do in 1000 hours? You could: write a novel, knit a giant blanket, draw a portrait, compose some music, torrent a couple of blu-ray movies, learn a new skill. The last one is the reason for this post.

You may have heard the song “Ten Thousand Hours” by Macklemore in which he describes the grind he’s been going through to become a successful rapper. He references the idea originally put forth in author Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book “Outliers” (some of you IB folk may remember reading it) For those of you who haven’t read his book (I highly recommend it, great read), Gladwell talks about his “10000 hour rule” which basically says that to become truly great at something requires roughly 10000 hours of practice.

So what am I babbling about with this “1000 hours” nonsense? Well, young one, Gladwell’s 10000 hour rule really applies to only those who are considered “elite”. These are people who are not only good, they are damn good at what they do. These are people like Tom Brady, Viswanathan Anand (World Chess Champion), Yo Yo Ma, Eminem, etc. This is what Mackelmore aspires to be in his song, he wants to be considered “elite.”

English: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performing at...

Macklemore, yo.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I, however, don’t. While the idea sounds great, the grind involved in trying to become the “best there ever was” (*cue Pokémon theme song*) is not really worth it at this point. If you hold such lofty expectations for yourself, more power to you. I instead came up with a different system. The goal of my system isn’t to become a master at a particular skill, but merely to become proficient. I use “proficiency” in a vague sense here, that is to say that I will ultimately decide whether or not I have become satisfactorily proficient at a skill. Like the title of this post suggests, I reason that 1000 hours is enough to become proficient at something. I neither have the attention span nor the dedication to seriously apply myself to a select skill for 10000 hours so why not become just proficient in a whole bunch of things? I’d like to be able to play an instrument, draw stunningly realistic pictures, develop apps for iOS and Android, etc. Putting 1000 hours into something is still challenging given my self-imposed time frame of a year. It works out to about 2.8 hours a day, but one must realize that 1000 hours is in approximation, just as doing something for 10000 hours isn’t a guarantee of success (as I’ve found out trying to beat God of War on God mode), it is just an approximation. That being said, my goal is to amass a wide variety of skills, have fun while doing so, and perhaps even discover a new hobby/interest that I never knew  I had. For now, I plan on doing this for 10 years. In 10 years I hope to become proficient in 10 skills. More than likely, one or two of these isn’t going to work out but who knows, it’s all about the journey…or something along those lines.

Now comes the question: what should be the first skill I attempt to become proficient at? Well that is something that I currently do not know, but I have until January 1st, 2013 to decide! Suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. I will try to document my struggles as best I can/want to. If this is something you think want to do, then do it. I don’t care.


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