In Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, The Story of Success, he makes a few points I think we’d all benefit from recognizing.
It’s true Malcolm Gladwell’s new book is about Success and the meaningful work. Success is a combination of talent, hard work, and opportunity. There’s an old saying that luck is where preparation meets opportunity and in each of his stories, this holds true.
Every one of the stories is about people who had an interest in something and they worked at developing their skills. In the case of the musicians, programmers and athletes; our heroes were passionate about what they were doing. Honing their skills was play.
In every case, the protagonists were doing meaningful work. Whether they were farmers, lawyers or tailors they invested time in getting good at what they did. How much time? 10,000 hours. In all of his examples, Gladwell found that his heroes had worked for ten years developing their skills before opportunity knocked.
Ten years? 10,000 hours?
What a daunting thought. Surprisingly not when you consider that Bill Gates was just 14 when he started playing around with a computer. What do you enjoy doing? What skills have you developed? Take some time for self-reflection and inventory your skills. Pay attention to those things that your interest and hopefully passion have led you to invest your time.
Then take a look at the world today. I call it market research; you might as well, too. Look and see where your skills, those talents you’ve honed, can meet a need or better yet fulfill a desire.
You never know, you may have unconsciously been preparing for today. You may have to invest more time, but when you develop the level of proficiency we’re talking about here, putting those skills to work feels like play.
Success for all of us is within our reach, today. Assess your skills and look for the opportunity to apply them to meaningful work. A good place to start is Gladwell’s new book. Listen to it on your iPod if you can’t find time to read.
There’s meaningful work out there for all of us.