Starring You as the Next Big _______ (Ten Years from Now)

Mark Zuckerberg inspires me. He said in an interview that he and Steve Jobs shared a desire to stay “maniacally focused.”

In another interview he said when he was growing up he’d get home from school and think, “I have five whole hours to just sit and play on my computer and write software.” When it was time for the weekend, he’d think, “Okay now I have two whole days to sit and write software. This is amazing.”

Through finding something he loves to do and by maintaining maniacal focus, he has been able to create a pretty creative and powerful monster.

Mark Zuckerberg can also depress, can make a lack of focus alarmingly conspicuous.

Whether or not you believe that 10,000 hours is a major ingredient in making a person into an expert, a theory developed by Dr. Anders Ericsson and popularized (or at least publicized) by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, we can all agree that focus and time commitment are likely to improve one’s performance in many areas.

While 10,000 hours will never make me a relative expert in areas of athletics or those requiring quantitative skills, I may have a chance of becoming good at cooking or playing the guitar if I spend three hours of practice a day for ten years. If I just apply myself, in 2022 or 2023 if I wait for the new year (which seems like a good idea) I might be able to make a mean risotto or insert a guitar solo into virtually any song.

And isn’t it wonderful to think that if I begin practicing my guitar 3 hours a day that I could be shredding by the time I’m 48? (Although many believe age is a major factor in the success of the 10,000 hour theory).

It sort of makes me to want to become a more ambitious owner-less guinea pig. If enough of us set out on a ten-year practice spree, we could help science by testing the boundaries of this 10,000 hour theory.

What could be your next big thing? Or for what could you be the next big thing?

If you need some inspiration to set your wheel rolling in the right direction, check out Dan and his plan. I’ll meet you back here in 10.


  • Amaris says:

    “Although many believe age is a major factor in the success of the 10,000 hour theory.” Mind if I ask how so? Do you need more hours as you age or fewer, or does it depend on the skill?

    Things like the 10,000 hours make me wish I’d kept better data during my childhood… (a statement I hope to never repeat.)

    • Shira Richman says:

      I love to hear you talk data.

      I think many believe that even 10,000 hours won’t help once age begins to have its way with you. I’m not sure when this happens, probably around 25.

  • Sam Ligon Sam Ligon says:

    I’m interested in the 10,000 hour mark, but it also feels kind of arbitrary to me. Certainly devoting yourself to cooking or writing or playing guitar — and maintaining focus and discipline for some period of time — will make you a cook, writer, and/or musician. Whether it’s 10,000 hours or not, though, might be beside the point. I like what you say about athletics and quantitative skills. Some things are easier for me to learn — and some things I’m just not very good at. And I certainly think you learn faster younger. I’m stunned by how quickly my kids pick stuff up. I also wonder about the concentration of the 10,000 hours. If I put in 10,000 hours over 7 year, will it have much greater impact than if I spread the 10,000 out over 30 years? Seems likely.

  • Melissa says:

    I wonder how many of us could be better at one or two or three things if we weren’t trying to be good at 27 things. I attempt to be good at lots of things and then it turns out I’m mediocre-to-awful at all of them. It seems like we idolize being well-rounded, especially for young people, but I don’t think people can call you a well-rounded person unless you’re moderately competent at more than one skill.

    Also, Shira, I’d like to make a bold prediction: you’ll be shredding long before 48.

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