Lifelong Growth

If people knew how hard I had to work to achieve my mastery, they would not think it so wonderful.” – Michealangelo

Are you surprised to see that the famous artist, Michealangelo, had to work hard? We tend to think of him as a genius, prodigy or virtuoso — child wonder — whose talent is miraculous and utterly natural. While he may have had talent, clearly this didn’t mean everything came easily to him.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour principle. He says, and I agree, that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing something to become a master at it. Whether it is golf, writing, art or music, whatever it is — it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become truly accomplished at it.

And yet, many of us have fallen into the trap of wanting things fast, and if we aren’t careful, this attitude can lead to frustration. When we forget that growth and mastery take time, we may feel that we aren’t accomplishing what we want, or we may become blind to the progress we’ve already made. Whether we want to learn something, grow or overcome something from our past, it going to take practice and time.

Don’t be discouraged! 10,000 hours is a lot of time! If you “work on” your issue — read a book, do some journaling, whatever — for one hour a day, you’ll reach 10,000 hours in about 27 and a half years. So, now you can see why I gave this post the title “lifelong growth!” When you are feeling frustrated with yourself, remember that things take time. Have you been at it 27 years? No? Then be easy on yourself! Of course, you can spend more than one hour a day — ballet dancers practice for many hours a day for many years to become masters at their craft — but beware tackling your problems (especially overcoming painful events of the past) with too much gusto. The 10,000 hour rule applies to practice, and personal growth takes straight-up time as well. So please, in whatever you are working on, be patient with yourself and think of personal growth as a lifelong adventure rather than an accomplishment.