Updated: Jun 13, 2019
I've been thinking a lot about becoming an expert and how challenging the learning process can be. When I look back on my first months as a corporate recruiter what I remember most clearly was a near-constant sense of dread. When I found out I had to be cold-calling investment bankers all day, I freaked! I didn't even know what an investment banker was. I used a script for every call for the first six months. I looked up every term on "Investopedia" to make sure I had some clue of what the heck I was talking about.
I felt like a fish out of water.
I didn't think I'd ever sound as confident on the phone as my colleagues (who'd come from finance and been there much longer than me). It seemed impossible that one day I'd be a cold-calling maven. Yet, eventually I got better at it and more comfortable too.
There’s no way around it folks. If you want to get really good at something, there's only one road there. It's not a glamorous road where you open an Instagram account and the next day have 2,000 followers. It's not a road where you pick up a tennis racquet and nail every serve in the first few months.
It’s called the Road of Deliberate Practice. It requires perseverance, resilience and it takes time.
You’ve heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea. Before he did, a group of researchers dug into the data and concluded that “the highest level of expert performance is displayed by individuals with over 10 years of experience” (Erickson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer, 1993). They found that “expert performance is the end result of individuals' prolonged efforts to improve performance while negotiating motivational and external constraints.”
Guys! It takes ten years to become an expert!
So let me ask you, are you being too hard on yourself? Is being hard on yourself sapping your motivation to get up and try again?
Here are some statistics to keep at hand when you’re thinking of giving up:
The time between chess players first learning the rules to becoming an international master: 11.7 years
In musical composition, the time between first studying music to composing an outstanding piece: 20 years
Average age poets publish first piece: 24.2
Average age the same poets created their greatest works: 34.3
Now get out there and have the courage to embrace learning!
Photo by Darius Soodmand on Unsplash