Want To Be An Expert?

Count Kobe’s shots in the clip.

Expert (noun): a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.

Most anyone can become an expert in virtually anything with enough practice. I am not saying I could become a NBA basketball player at age 44 while standing 5′ 10″. I am saying, I could become an expert on the art shooting a jumper or free throws, both of which I am not very skilled.

The crucial factor in becoming an expert, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, is time. Roughly 10,000 hours of practice (study) is required. In his book, he cites the Beatles’ two years of non-stop performance time in Hamburg, Germany, and Bill Gate’s unprecedented access as a teenager to mainframe computers at the University of Washington.

I point to Kobe Bryant, whom’s practice habits are legendary. According to Inside Hoops, Bryant follows a “666 workout”:  6 hours a day, 6 days a week, 6 months a year (off-season). During the normal season, he reportedly practices about 4 hours a day. When he was asked in an interview by Men’s Fitness how many shots he takes a day for practice purposes, Kobe responded:

 “It’s between 700 to 1,000 makes a day.”

I bolded the word “makes” to emphasize the point he isn’t just taking shots to take shots. He is purposely trying to get better with every attempt and only “makes” count in his book. Contrast Kobe’s statement to that of former NBA player, Allen Iverson, regarding him missing practice:

“…We’re sitting here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we’re talking about practice. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last, but we’re talking about practice man. How silly is that?”

Practice (verb): to perform or do repeatedly in order to acquire skill or proficiency.

It is over simplified to say you just need to practice at least 10,000 hours to become an expert. In order to aquire 10,000 hours of practice, you must have love, desire and access for your subject matter. I am certain Iverson put in his 10,000 hours prior to getting to the NBA, but the desire and love for the game had wand and thus he no longer viewed practice as important. Those who are truly remarkable never stop trying to improve.

Keys to becoming an expert:

  1. It takes a tremendous amount of time and focus to become an expert.
  2. It is virtually impossible to dedicate 10,000 hours to anything you don’t truly love or care about.

Its one’s passion that enables a person to practice so much more than a person would normally. Additionally, it is in the pursuit of improving, we become consciously aware of everything involved in our field of expertise. When we are able to become coherent of the nuances involved, we have the opportunity to adapt our behaviors to perform better or become more equipped to explain them so that others may benefit from our knowledge.

What do you love doing? How close to 10,000 hours of practice are you at it? How might your life change if you became an expert?

As my wonderful extended adopted quasi mother, Sally Jones commented recently, “Why not, me?” So I ask, why not you?

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4 comments

  1. bro · February 3, 2012

    I dont think your 5 10
    and tiger woods dad knew this 🙂

    • Chris Antrim · February 3, 2012

      I am 5′ 10″ and Tiger Wood’s father is a perfect example of putting in 10,000 of practice in becoming an expert.

  2. Tammy · February 5, 2012

    Love this post. Gladwell does rock, doesn’t he? I think of it in terms of five years. And we should be planning today what our new expertise will be in the next five years.

    • Chris Antrim · February 5, 2012

      Gladwell’s books always make me feel smarter. I can’t wait for him to write another one. I love your ideaa of thinking of planning in 5 year terms. Tony Robbins says, “People way over estimate what they can accomplish in one year, and way under estimate what they can accomplish in 5 years!” Thank you for adding to the discussin.

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