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Why were the ‘The Beatles’ so great? Malcolm Gladwell, in his superb book, ‘Outliers – The Story of Success‘ takes his readers on a wonderful journey, analyzing where talents meets effort to achieve success. In it, he argies that ‘The Beatles,’ although talented, also had exponentially more performance experience than the other bands of the time. They had undoubtedly known and practised the art more. Catchy tunes or not, they had, as a collective, more experience than their rivals. Gladwell goes through a host of interesting examples to support his theory in this must-read book.
Gladwell puts forth the premise that to be an expert requires a devotion to one’s craft for at least 10 000 hours. If you have spent, over time, 10 000 hours in a specific field then you are an expert at it. This may be a sign post on your way, if you need it, to find your own area of expertise. It certainly gave me courage and allowed me to confidently pitch myself as an expert in my field. I did the time. I put in the hours. I still am.
Since I left tertiary education, I have done nothing but work with children between the ages of 3 and 13 years old. More specifically, the great majority of all my time spent with these little people has been in the role of their teacher. And yet more specifically, I have exclusively taught, in a variety of ways, the Creative Arts with the particular aim to foster and develop confidence and other social skills in my students. I have mastered it. I know it better than I know anything else. I am faster, more efficient, more confident in my ability to teach Drama, Dance and Singing to primary school aged children than I am at making a cup of tea. One could argue that I am an expert purely because of the time that I have served in this field. I do adore kids and I would like to believe that there is natural talent involved too.
But for the sake of the argument, let’s go with Gladwell on this. Why did I start my organization? Why is it going well? Because it is what I know better than anything else. I am an expert. I claim that with confidence. Everyone is an expert at something! Do the math. Find the 10 000 hours. It may help you calculate what you are an expert at.