Jack of One Trade

Dear Malcolm Gladwell,

10,000 hours you say…

10,000 hours to master something, anything. If someone puts in that extreme amount of time, they are bound to be one of the best. It’s a really encouraging idea.

What have I spent the most hours in my life doing? Sadly, it’s probably watching TV or driving (not unlike most people). But what have I consciously dedicated the most hours to? Hmm. With some quick and very rough math, I here is the top three:

Writing: This is hard to quantify because it’s something that most people do every day at some level. Is texting writing? Is learning cursive in 3rd grade writing? For the sake of this, I’m going to say yes. I’ll say I spent an average of 1 hour per day writing throughout grades 1-12 for around 2,000 hours. For college, I’ll be generous and say I also spent 1 hour per day for another 1,000 hours. This past year, I’ll be generous again and say I wrote for an average of at least 1 hour every day which is still only about 300 hours. Grand total = 3,300ish hours

Basketball: Practice and games from 7th grade through high school for maybe 7 hours a week for around 2,000 hours. Sprinkle in pick-up and intramurals throughout college to today for 2 hours per week for 700 more. Total of = 2,700ish hours

Bike: 12,000 miles on my bike at 17mph = 705 hours. Add in trips to school and around town for another 300. Total of about 1,000 hours

If I add up all the time I spent doing my 3 favorite things, it barely cracks 7,000 hours. 10,000 hours is an amazing feat and it makes sense that anyone (crazy enough…) to do something for that long ought to be awesome at it. Where do people find the time? Seriously though.

This all brings me to my real question. Society is becoming more and more specialized; few professions require a generalist outlook. Is someone better off finding one single thing and sticking to it until they are awesome at it? Or is there still a place in this world for someone who is just “good” at a handful of things? Balanced vs. or one dimensional.

PS: Do you really think Macklemore put in his 10,000 hours?


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