From Beginner to Pro in Less Than 10,000 Hours

I got the idea for the title of this post based on an interview I did last week in which Jeff King, the interviewer, remarks I look like an “old pro” on the water.  I’ve also read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers in which he uses several examples to determine that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill and that being in the right place in the right time also has a big impact on one’s success.  I’m not going to write an essay on this, but this is really a bunch of nonsense in my opinion.  A midget is probably not going to win the high jump, even after 10,000 hours.  Nor is a guy my size going to get close to beating a Simon Whitfield in triathlon even after 10,000 hours.  I had an ambitious goal of winning a gold medal at the Olympics before I had ever tried rowing.  But I didn’t just eeny meeny miny mo my way to choosing rowing.  More than just having a rower’s build, I knew I also had decent physiology based on things like being near the front of the pack during dry-land training runs in hockey as a teenager.  I also seemed to naturally have decent form when learning technical lifts in the gym like hang cleans and snatches when I was training for football in university.  Similarly, the rowing stroke requires a very precise technique for max efficiency.  These are the kind of clues that gave me the idea that dedicating 100% of my effort to rowing might make my goal attainable before I had even tried the sport.  Not an exact science, I know, but better than nothing.

The 10,000 hour rule doesn’t apply to all new skills, so don’t use it as a cop out.  I’m at about 2,646 hours into rowing on the national team and 1,728 hours of learning how to row and training on my own while working full time.  Grand total = 4,374 hours.  Find out what strengths you have already and how they might combine toward a goal that seems lofty.  You might surprise yourself.

By the way, I have nothing against midgets.  Check out this cool clip of a midget boxing match.

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