10,000 hours

10,000 hrs to become an Expert

My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.

Charles Dickens

This video above I have become mesmerized by. I showed my husband, as I was in pure awe. Automatically thoughts go to how beautiful this dancer maintains control and tells a story utilizing the childhood toy of a hula hoop. I expected my husband to say something similar, how astounding she was. What instead he says to me, “Practice Practice and You can do it!”

This was not what I was expecting. Although I admire her, I automatically placed this performance out of my realm of potential. And perhaps that’s what separates me from him. He is working in one of the world’s best restaurants, taking a job that’s way below his pay grade. Why? To work with the best and strive to be a Michelin starred chef.

I am not a perfectionist, I haven’t strived to be the best. And I admit I have half-assed many things throughout my life. Yes, I have attained a lot at a young age, but I was not competitive to be the best? I assumed I wouldn’t be, and therefore do not put effort to try. Semi-successful seemed to suit me fine.

Serendipitously I began reading this book Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. The book explores the top performers in their field, and how they have attained their peaks. Is it nature or nurture?

The book begins with a story of Mozart, who had perfect pitch. We know to this day, 1 in 10,000 people have perfect pitch. It has been assumed that individuals who have been exposed to music at a young age and are from countries with tonal languages are more likely to develop this skill. But a recent study in Japan, took 24 children from age 2-6 and gave them daily lessons in music for over a span of a year. With that practice and daily encouragement, all developed perfect pitch!

There is so much more to the book, which I have only partially stepped into. Many of us may develop a skill, but do not become excellent in it. The reason is we may practice, but not engage in intentional practice. We are satisfied with our results and our practice remains in the comfort zone. The only way we grow is if we continually strive past levels of comfort each time we practice .

Discomfort=growth. Perhaps this is why many of us don’t engage in it. It’s hard work, and the daily payoffs aren’t always seen.

We have the potential to develop these super human qualities…from chess playing, athletic strength, perfect pitch, and perhaps even hula hoop dancing.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything. I’ve been reflecting on this thought.

The comedy Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s protagonist also wonders about this thought, as she ends a relationship. We may spend 10,000 hours obsessing about relationships and crushes, is that time really worth it? Couldn’t we spend our time in a more productive way? To better the world or ourselves?


I write this before I take my fourth flamenco class in my late 30s. I feel I am far from performance worthy, but why set barriers? Set goals, stick to them, practice past my level of comfort, and perfect it!

The older I get the more I respect those top performers. I am learning to still set additional peaks for myself, and not put barriers on dreams that may pop up, even in my Facebook feed 😉

Character is just another word for having a perfectly disciplined and educated will. A person can make his own character by blending these elements with an intense desire to achieve excellence. Everyone is different in what I will call magnitude, but the capacity to achieve character is still the same.” –Vince Lombardi

For more information on the music study, see below.


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