I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, The Story of Success”. If you are familiar with Gladwell you know he’s a fabulous author. He’s also one of my all time favorites. In reading “Outliers”, what captured my attention is the concept of what he calls the “10,000 Hour Rule.” He tells us that researchers have determined that ten thousand practice hours are required for anyone to reach a level of expertise in their craft. He quotes neurologist Daniel Leviton to support his research; “The emerging picture is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything.” It has been shown in study after study that no matter where your talent lies (musician, athlete, writer, dancer, criminal, high tech guru, business) this number comes up again and again.
Some of us believe we have a talent for doing something and that our talent is enough to take us to the pinnacle of achievement. A main point of Gladwell’s book is that yes, talent is a piece of the picture and when you’re talented you might have an edge, but it’s the practicing that will take you to the top. It’s the practicing that enables you to surpass everyone else who is as talented as you are. Think about how the many stories you’ve read or heard where the entrepreneur failed numerous times before hitting the big time. Those failures were part of the practicing hours and were a key to their eventual success.
When we apply this concept to you and your business, the premise is that those of you who put in your time practicing are likely to achieve greater success. I look at myself and I’ve been self-employed since I was 23 but I began my first business when I was in junior high, selling macramé jewelry, roach clips, and plant holders to a local head shop. Now I’m 59 and looking back, I have had a lot of years of preparation! I believe those years of practice set me apart from most of my competition because they haven’t practiced as much as I have!
In my mind, “practice” is the doing of whatever it is that will support you to achieve excellence in your business. The actual definition of “practice” is: “the application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use. It is the customary, habitual, or repeated exercise in performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency.” It is not an abstract concept; it is very much an action step where you spend hours a day or a week, working on your business as well as in it.
I look at women in our community who have reached a level of success that the majority of us have not. I bet if we dug deep we’d see that they have practiced longer and harder than the rest of us. Not only have they been practicing more, for a longer time, they also continue to work on honing their craft, whatever it might be.
I ask you to consider how you might incorporate more practicing into your business? Some of you might have the required level of expertise, so how do you take that proficiency to the next level? In some cases you will have to approach your discomfort head on. If there is something vital to your success that you refuse/resist, start there! If making sales calls or follow up calls consistently doesn’t happen because you won’t make them, this is where practicing is needed. You will be well served to overcome the hurdles you place in from of yourself, and with practice will come the results you want.