Monday, July 12, 2010

Work It

“If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
- Toni Morrison
There’s no secret. To succeed, you need to work your ass off. We know this, but we convince ourselves there’s something we lack. We admire her writing, his artwork, her fluency with languages, his carpentry skills, her guitar skills, his sewing ability. We wonder what makes these people so special. Instead of applying ourselves to the skills we admire, we envy those who have already mastered them.

Everyone might not have the potential to be world-class at a given activity, but who can say? I heard on NPR once that it takes fourteen years of effort. If you started playing piano tomorrow, it would be fourteen years of practice before you played a solo concert at Carnegie Hall. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell expresses this as ten thousand hours. The Beatles’ voices and fingers weren’t blessed, their minds weren’t filled with melodies and lyrics sent by God, they just practiced. A lot. Ten thousand hours worth.

I'm not sure if that relates directly with the Morrison quote, but I do like the two ideas together.

Let’s get crackin’.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I posted this for G a while back. Seems like it would fit your situation too.

    It's by another guy who could write a bit.

  3. Oh, yes. Although I didn't comment on your blog, I remember reading this post. It's little wonder he's still relevant and revered centuries after his death.

    Growing up, I imagined becoming famous and worshipped by faceless millions. I never realized how much satisfaction there is in being known, loved, and understood by a single person.