We all want to be considered the best at what we do. But how many of us are willing to do what it takes to get to the top? Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, wrote about the price of brilliance: 10,000 hours of study and practice. Researchers at Berlin’s Academy of Music studied a group of violin students who started playing at around the age of five, practicing for two or three hours a week. As they grew older, the students gradually increased the number of hours they practiced each week. By the age of 20, the elite performers had totaled 10,000 hours of practice apiece, while the merely good students had accrued 8,000.
So, genius (or at least mastery) is achievable for all of us. That’s the good news – you don’t have to be born brilliant to become brilliant. That’s also the bad news – you’re only as good as you want to be. In this era of instant everything, it’s typical of us to want instant recognition of our skills and compensation to match.
Try thinking about your time on the job as time spent mastering your skills. How has your performance improved over the last year? If you’re not making progress, you may be falling behind a peer who is working on mastery.