What will you do with your 10,000 hours?


By Ray DePaul


When you turn 25, you will look back and realize that you just spent 5 years and over 10,000 hours getting really good at something (assuming 40 hours/week investment of time). If you believe Malcolm Gladwell, this level of investment in practicing a skill makes you world-class or certainly a lot better than your peers.

So what will you become exceptional at in your early 20's? What choices will you make in the courses you take, the jobs you pursue, the books you read, the organizations you help, the events you attend, the network you build? If you intentionally set out to be exceptional in something, it can be the compass that helps you make all of these decisions.

For example, Rudi Schiebel, a Mount Royal business student decided that he was going to become an expert in the business of bison ranching - a decision made all the more pressing given his recent conversion of a farm into a ranch. This clear goal helped Rudi cater his business degree towards entrepreneurship and international business (he wanted to export bison meat). He travelled to China and then Europe to understand export markets. He rolled up his sleeves and worked the ranch to understand more than just the numbers. He met with dozens of chefs and restaurants to appreciate their perspective. He built a network in the tight knit Canadian bison community, and he read book after book on building a business. Rudi is closing in on his 10,000 hours and is undeniably an expert in his field with an incredible future ahead of him.

It all starts with a goal; ideally, an audacious goal. With that clear destination in mind, the many smaller decisions become more obvious. The reality is that you will likely change your goal several times before landing on your plan. That is expected and should not be an excuse to avoid setting a goal. Before Rudi set out to be a bison rancher, he followed the dream of many young Canadians. The hockey world's loss is my barbeque's gain.