~~~ Vs. ———

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🤔 Cryptic title, I know. But, be patient! Lemme explain...

Most of us have heard of the famous ⏰ 10,000 hour rule, which states that individuals must put in (at least) 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class at their chosen activity. Want to be the next LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Put in 10,000 hours (equivalent to ~5 years of full-time, 8-hour days, 5 days/week, just FYI). Want to be the best concert pianist the world has ever seen? Put in 10,000 hours. Want to be the next Stephen King? PUT IN 10,000 HOURS!

The implication here is that time breeds success, be it 10,000 hours or more. Now, I think that's a relatively fair statement and one which can be proven (to an extent), but...

What if, for example, you want to be the best, say, CEO? ... (💥 record scratch).

I think we can all agree that there are certain roles many of us aspire to obtain that simply don't abide by the 'more time = more success' principle. How can we practice being a CEO? Or, social worker? Or, consultant? Success in certain professions—and often those most typically pursued—isn't as cut and dry as 'put in the time and you will succeed'.

So, that begs the question...

👉 How can I succeed when pursuing more ambiguous passions?

We're all familiar with the ⛳ Tiger Woods story (nevermind his off-the-course struggles). On TV at age 2, wowing viewers with his golfing abilities, winning amateur tournaments as the youngest golfer in the field, and, after countless triumphs, likely going down as the best (or, one of the best) to ever play the sport. It feeds perfectly into the 10,000 hour rule, doesn't it? Start young, put in a ton of work, and reap your due rewards.

Sounds great, right? Apply that work ethic to your passion and success will follow. For some, that may be true. But, the thing is...most of us don't aspire to be golfers.

And, we can expound upon 'golfers' to more broadly state that most of us don't have a professional passion that lends itself to what David Epstein in his book, 📚 Range (order here), would call "kind learning environments." When we think of golf, or music, or chess, or even surgery, diligent, focused practice of these disciplines can lead to extraordinary improvements and success. Why? Because the feedback—whether you did something right or wrong—is immediate and known. It is kind. Shank a golf shot, you can tell. Play the wrong note, you'll notice. So, by way of more practice, you'll see less shanks, less missed notes.

The 10,000 rule should work.

However, the opposite to Epstein's "kind learning environments" are what he calls, 😈 "wicked learning environments." And, it is in these environments that most of us must operate to reach our goals and live out our defined purpose.

Wicked learning environments require broad expertise to solve ambiguous problems. As a CEO, mastery of no one discipline will lead to outstanding success. The best leaders have an understanding of many disciplines, even if those understandings wouldn't be defined as 'mastery'. Similarly, the best researchers, as Epstein notes in his book, are—perhaps counterintuitively—rarely one trick ponies. The best researchers instead rely on learnings from a diverse background of experiences and approach problems with an open mind, finding solutions that experts may be blind to if outside their area of expertise.

See, while the 10,000 hour rule may work for some, such a narrow approach is likely a ❌ bad idea for most of us and may actually do more harm than good.

And, now we finally reach the meaning behind the cryptic title of this post...

If your life has been more ~~~, rather than ———, I'm here to tell you that that is 👍 perfectly okay! And, I'm also here to tell you that beyond just being perfectly okay, it may actually be beneficial. Now, by '~~~' I mean that your life has taken many twists and turns, you've tried new things, new professions, new careers, explored new interests, and have been open to opportunities that you feel are aligned with what you want to do at a given stage in your life. In other words, you're a bit of a journeyman or woman. (Okay, I have to plug our Journeymen podcast, forgive me but it's good stuff!)

Your diverse set of experiences give you a wide 🪣 bucket of knowledge that can be drawn upon to solve problems of all varieties. And, in whatever you decide to do, if you think about it...problem solving is perhaps the most coveted and useful skill.

As an example, in Range, Epstein tells the story of an Alaskan oil spill that ravaged the local ecosystem and left harmful remnants in the sea, the removal of which seemed impossible. The experts on the job simply could not come up with a solution, so they called on the public for possible answers. Lo and behold, a former 👷 construction worker, recalling his experience on the job, submitted a short proposal of how to potentially alleviate the issue. Long story short, his proposal worked. A little outside-the-box thinking, made possible by outside experiences and perspectives saved the day.

🙏 There is great value to a ~~~ life. And, I'm not saying that a ——— life is wrong, bad, or undesirable. Fortunes have been made living a ——— life. Yet, many of us simply don't follow the straight and narrow. Our preferences and interests change, as do our life circumstances.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that whether you choose a ~~~ life or not, never feel discouraged or 'behind'. Realize how awesome it is that you are being exposed to so many experiences, perspectives, and thoughts! Embrace the fact that you are discovering yourself and evolving! Take everything in, internalize what you learn, and let it all compile in that wide bucket I mentioned above. 👍 Trust that what you learn and experience will set you up for a better future. A future in which your ~'s lead to the happiest of —'s.

And, if you've been living a ——— life and desire a change, let this be a sign that every ~ you add to your life's journey is not a setback, as some of your friends and family may see it. It's you doing what you feel is right. It's you following your ❤️. And, as an added bonus, as it turns out, it's actually setting you up for a happier, more prosperous tomorrow. The world tends to value interesting risk-takers. (Don't believe me? Read Range.)

As some wise soul once said: 💭 Leap and the net will appear.

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