, , , , , , ,

In the digital age that we live in, it is not hard to recognize that short cuts, laziness and complacency can quickly grab a hold of our lives without us even knowing it. If I lined up 10 people and asked them if they work hard, I would be willing to bet that all 10 of those people would say, “absolutely YES I work hard.” So we could all agree that people work hard; but I could argue that everyone’s definition of hard work is seemingly different. So if this is true, then why do so few people succeed in life?

We often hear in the media, “Wow, where did they come from? How did they get so successful overnight?” We sometimes say these ignorant statements forgetting that overnight success takes years to develop. Orrin Woodward has talked about and written many articles discussing Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. In the Outliers, Gladwell states that to master anything it requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

Let’s use Orrin Woodward as an example. Orrin was a systems engineer for General Motors. He was being groomed to be the top-level engineer in the entire company. At an early age in his career he was introduced to entrepreneurship, community building and leadership education (but at the time it certainly didn’t look that cool). I would assume that in his mid 20’s when he was first introduced he did not say to himself, “I am going to master community building.” However, he did transfer his discipline, hard work and courage to this new and unknown territory humbly submitting to a profession that he knew very little about. With that he started to become a veracious learner and worker and eventually committed to making community building his mastery. We now know Orrin 18-20 years later as the #6 leadership guru in the world, IAB award winner, best-selling author and master community builder. So how does a guy with over 207,000 twitter followers, 10’s of thousands of Facebook followers and 10’s of thousands of LIFE community members get to be an overnight success like that?

It’s simple; learn everything there is to know about your craft or your field by committing to Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. The problem is that most people start the journey but never finish and then blame the failure on someone or something else. If you never took the time to master it, then how on earth can you blame someone else for your lack of success? I played 18 years of basketball (almost my entire life). If I had quit basketball at any time during the journey then I would have no right to blame anyone but myself for having the lack of courage to discipline myself to deliberately put in the 10,000 hrs+ of practice required to be successful. The reason we hear these stories being called an ‘overnight success’ is because you don’t actually witness the early morning wake up calls, the pain of rejection, the late night anxiety, the financial investment, the lost friendships, the fears of venturing into the unknown, the physical exhaustion associated with the work involved or the hundreds of times you’ve doubted yourself. But then one day you get called an ‘overnight success.’

I received a text from a team member the other day that said, “check out this 16 year-old dancer, I think she has put in her 10,000 hrs.”

This 16 year-old girl started dancing at 2 years old. While she is still young, it certainly doesn’t rule out the fact that she has deliberately practiced 10,000 hours to master acrobatic dancing. Lindsey said in her video that she practices 15-20 hours a week. If you break that down it’s between 2.5-3 hrs per day and roughly 1,000 hours a year most likely taking her over 10 years to get to be as good as she is today. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many audience members thought, “Wow, this young lady is going to be an overnight success.”

There are so many examples of people who have put in the 10,000+ hours necessary to master their craft but the next question I challenge you with is, what craft are you choosing to master? D.L Moody says, “Our greatest fear should not be failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t matter.” Chris Brady says, “Don’t invest your life into something that doesn’t matter.” Is what you are mastering of eternal value? Going back to the beginning, I mentioned that most people have the belief that they work very hard. And for most people this is true; however, is that hard work going to matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now or will it only make you 5, 10 or 20 years older? These are deep questions to think about.

What I love most about the-life-business and the mental fitness challenge is that it allows us to identify the priorities in our life. It allows us to figure out what matters and strive for excellence in those particular areas. It gives us a road map to mastery in things of eternal value – like purpose, legacy, relationship (with our creator) and character.

I encourage anyone who feels a little lost, is discouraged with their results in life, is searching for meaning and wants to truly live the life they have always wanted to become a LIFE member and take the mental fitness challenge and discover what it really means to be an overnight success at something that matters.