Occasionally I happen upon something that strikes me as so profound that I feel compelled to share it. This week, two such happenings occurred. The first was the "10,000 Hour Rule" by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell discusses this rule in his new book Outliers. The essence of the 10,000 hour rule is that it takes about 10,000 hours to master something like golf, computer science, art or brain surgery. It just takes that long for our brains to truly master a field. We tend to overemphasize the "talent" that a Bill Gates or Tiger Woods has and underestimate the many hours they put in studying and/or practicing.
Gladwell tells the story of 15 year old Bill Gates getting up at 1:30 AM to use a computer at the University of Washington that was only available from 2:00 to 6:00 AM. By the time he dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft, he was already over 10,000 hours.
I was reminded of this concept, while I have been trying to improve my golf game. One teaching pro recommends hitting 1000 golf balls a day to "get to the next level." Yikes!
Gladwell is a insightful thinker, he is also the author of the seminal book The Tipping Point
The second profound thing, Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford , was brought to my attention by one of my Dartmouth students, Morgan Cawdrey. It only takes a few minutes to read, so I'll let you do that. Morgan pointed out that the most striking part of the speech is quoted below:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.