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Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting in your first 1000 hours at any cost

The first time I heard the phrase "get in your 10,000 hours" was in an interview I did with John Carlton several years ago. He was talking about copywriting and he said if you want to be world-class-good at something, log your ten thousand hours of practice.

Today I've got 2 thoughts to share about getting in your 10,000 hours:

1) It's hard for most people to appreciate the rich rewards of being truly world class. The doors it will open for you, the opportunities it will bring month after month, year after year. Especially if you build a public platform around your skill, you're automatically at the front of every line you stand in - if you even have to stand in line at all.

When you're world class you can achieve things in your sleep that most people can't pull off with every ounce of energy and concentration they possess.

2) You don't have to be even close to certified world-class to enjoy substantial advantages. I've always liked the phrase "in the land of the blind, the man with one eye gets to be king." In most industries and most markets, you don't need world class marketing chops to win big-time. 1,000 hours of practice will equip you to beat almost everybody in almost any game.

Remember, to succeed online you only need to be good at TWO things - ONE kind of traffic and ONE kind of sales conversion.

If you spend 1,000 hours learning how to generate ONE kind of traffic and 1,000 hours mastering ONE way of converting prospects to buyers, you will be darn close to the best guy or gal you can find at those two things.

So how do you log your 1,000 hours?

You MUST MUST MUST shove minutia out of the way and FOCUS for 1 hour a day.

1 hour a day for 3 years is 1000 hours.
2 hours a day for 18 months is 1000 hours.
3 hours a day for a year is 1000 hours.
Even if you take one day off per week, which you should.

You will never miss the minutia you shove out of the way. It'll probably be time you spend responding to emails that will never result in any sales or time you waste twittering or facebooking or whatever.

There are many trivial tasks you can give to a $10 per hour assistant. Things other people can do for you like laundry or housecleaning. Short-term chores that you'll never miss once they're gone.

What if you gave those jobs to somebody else and blocked out ONE HOUR to hone your highest skill to perfection?

I've basically spent at least an hour writing every day for the last 10 years. It's my best skill and it's paid off. I've wasted a lot of time doing a lot of stupid things during the last decade but it's the time I spent doing that that made a difference.

The other thing I've been doing for the last 10 years - yes, probably about an hour every day, on average - is being a certified Marketing Maniac. Having my radar cranked up for every possible angle on human psychology and what makes people respond; what makes people change their minds, change their beliefs, part with their money.

Collecting every strange story and case study about websites and infomercials and direct mail campaigns and sales meetings I can find and filing them away in my brain.

I've wasted a lot of time doing stupid stuff but time spent doing that has paid off handsomely.

-----> There's one point I must NOT leave out.

Just "doing ten thousand hours of whatever" all by itself is not enough and will get you nowhere.

There are all kinds of accountants and engineers and secretaries who have done ten thousand hours of accounting or engineering or secretarial work, who are not even close to world class at anything.

Why? Because they've just been punching the clock. Sleepwalking through their life. They haven't been sharpening their saw. They've only been going through the motions.

That'll earn you a paycheck but little else. No, I'm talking about conscious, deliberate effort to get BETTER. To challenge yourself; to seek out new discoveries, to try things you haven't tried before; to put yourself under the tutelage of an exacting and demanding mentor; to press the edges of your comfort zone and expand your ability.

THAT is what you spend your 1,000 or 10,000 hours doing. Acting instead of reacting. Pressing forward instead of floating downstream.

Before I go, there is one last advantage that I'd like you to consider:

Consider the PEER GROUP you will belong to when you achieve regional, national or world-class chops in ANY endeavor.

You will command instant respect from other world-class people, regardless of profession. The conversations you have with them will be stimulating, invigorating, fascinating. People who embrace excellence. People who, you will find, are usually generous and creative and adventurous. They introduce you, in turn, to other creative, adventurous people.

You will also find that contrary to stereotype, folks who hang out at country clubs are neither stuffy nor dull nor boring. They're usually the most happenin', engaging people in town.

A couple weeks ago I spied a Google ad by a world-class artist who is revered in certain circles. Someone I highly respect. (I bet he got his 10,000 hours in by age 19.) I saw a couple of mistakes he was making and dropped him an email offering to help out. He Googled me and when he saw I was also world class at what I do, he replied back and we had a great conversation.

I helped him out, I had a cool opportunity to converse with someone whose work I admire, and perhaps we'll have more exchanges in the future.

I bet you can think of people you'd like to meet. If you're as good at what you do as they are at what they do, it won't be hard to make that happen.

The pursuit of excellence is truly worthy of your time. I challenge you to name anything that's more worthy of 1 hour per day than that.

Whatever you do - whatever minutia you have to shove out of the way - commit right now to your 1,000 hours of mastery. It's the first step to getting your 10,000 hours. That hour-a-day is not optional if you want to have a great life.

I promise, it will take you to places you've hardly dreamed of.

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