From playing Halo to being a heart surgeon, becoming an expert is the goal we often set for ourselves in the things we spend our time on. And, it’s one great way to reach your goals, both directly and indirectly. Being the best at something can literally be your goal: win an Oscar, compete professionally as an athlete, finally beat your pop at scrabble [true story] or, being a master at something that makes you money can indirectly help you reach your goals because it affords you the security you need to feel comfortable or funds the awesome things you want to do.
Here’s where self-awareness comes in: part of reaching your goals is being aware of what you spend your time doing (check out my last post) and then aligning the outcomes of doing those things over and over again with what you want to achieve. In other words, if you are spending a bunch of time playing hopscotch, ask yourself: “What would likely happen if I became a master at hopscotch?” Is it your goal? Would it be a neat side-gig that you would enjoy? Does it give you the physical prowess or social accumen that will let you reach your goals? Or, is it essentially a waste of your time? Because, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his wonderful book Outliers, there’s a simple model to becoming a master at a task: do it for 10,000 hours. That’s awesome information for two decisions:
What task do you want to be an expert at because it will help you reach your goals? Go do it for 10,000 hours.
What are you by accident or default doing for 10,000 hours? Is it worthwhile for you to become an expert at that task? If yes, yay. If no, re-allocate that time into a path that does reap you rewards.
Here’s a neat flow chart that really sums up the decision you are making with the skills you acquire from Oliver Emberton. (Check out his whole poston playing the game of life. It’s amazing!)
Of course, this has just been a look at "mastery" from the task level. Next post: mastery of something complicated like your career.