In his 2008 release, Outliers, journalist Malcolm Gladwell introduced the notion that one has to spend 10,000 hours working at their craft before they can become a true master.
Now, even though the idea is catchy, and it’s a valid one indeed, there’s a lot to be said about the kind of work one has to put. It’s not just work-work, but it’s working towards mastery, a competitive and aggressive way of working towards bettering yourself day in and day out.
10,000 hours of that, and you’ll become so good they can’t ignore you.
But this is not why I am writing this article. I am writing because there’s a different kind of work that we must do in order to reach subconscious mastery of a certain skill, art, or craft.
10,000 hours of procrastination.
10,000 hours of fear and loathing in an ultra-competitive society that judges you harshly for any failed attempt.
10,000. Ten thousand.
Years of your life spent thinking about doing it, reading about doing it, making plans about doing it, daydreaming about the success you will enjoy as the result of you doing it.
That’s a lot. It’s a lot of time spent listening to the inner critic, to all those who tell you that you can’t do it.
But that’s how you get to do it.
You “invest” years of your life. A bad investment, indeed, but that’s how you learn. You learn that if you keep following the advice of those who tell you that you can’t, you will crawl through life.
The road to mastery is paved with countless moments of doubt and hesitation.
Being brave means that you are afraid and do it anyways. Well, that takes time. A lot of it.
There’s a lot of self-talk involved. A lot of micro-decisions to be made.
In order to develop the daily habit of working on your craft, you have to first experience the negative side-effects of never working on your craft.
You have to develop the fear of missing out on the opportunity of becoming a master, you have to be close enough to a hopeless, dreamless future, so you can finally decide to do it, even though you’re scared out of your mind.
So, yeah, don’t worry about the 10,000 hours of work. That’s the easy part.
The 10,000 hours of procrastination are tricky. The hours you waste, because you’re afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid of what your parents might have to say.
That’s what makes people quit. That’s what makes their minds go, “Abort mission, abort mission!”
It’s not easy to put in your 10,000 hours of procrastination. To sit on your couch, doing nothing, while there’s this whisper inside your brain, this voice of impending doom. It’s an anxiety-inducing feeling. It’s quite painful.
But that’s what you have to do. 10,000 hours of procrastination. Nothing more, nothing less.
10,000 hours of wishing you’d have the time, the energy, the resources, the right friends, to do it.
After you’ve spent that, you just kind of say, “fuck it!” and you just do it. Then putting 10,000 hours of work towards mastery becomes easy. It’s nothing compared to the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost the vision of being more than what you are right now.