Sunday, October 22, 2006

Success Secrets: Obsession

I thought it was just me: I was never able to accomplish anything unless it became an obsession. For me this meant being so involved in what I was doing I would forget to eat or sleep, often working 12 hours and more for days.

It turns out I’m not alone. Recent articles in Scientific American and Fortune Magazine tell it like it is: expect to spend 10 years to become good at anything. And not just you and me: Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, pianist Vladimir Horowitz, chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer...all amazing “talents” spent an estimated 10,000 hours of focused, goal-oriented study perfecting their craft. Obsession may indeed be one of the indispensable elements of success. Thomas Schweich tells us in his book Staying Power that all the judges, rock stars, and business executives he interviewed had at least one thing in common: their work came first. Before everything. That’s just the way it is.

We can dream rosy dreams about “life balance”, console ourselves that we are not “talented” enough. But, perhaps, we just haven’t found that trigger...that route to obsession...that route to potential greatness. Master Wall Street trader Vic Sperandeo has stated he has read at least 1000 trading books. In my living room that would mean 30 bookshelves just devoted to one subject. Who can say they have read thirty bookshelves worth of books in their field? I heard world-famous guitarist Michael Hedges say at a concert that to master the intricacies of his art he needed to basically turn on the TV, zone out, and practice all day. Every day.

There are no guarantees in life. But it is comforting to know that success may not be due to looks, height, connections, or even innate aptitude. It may be just 10,000 hours away. If we dare.

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