Who wants to be a Master? I want to be Good Enough!

Posted on January 4, 2012 by


A couple months ago I started thinking about how much time I had invested in Kitesurfing, Downhill Skiing, and Indoor Rock-Climbing.  These are sports where I had gone from novice to intermediate/advanced over a couple years.  They were also sports that many people thought were cool but very difficult to learn.

I went through each sport and tried to put together an estimate of how much time I had spent on each over the years.  It was different for each sport and while the process is highly susceptible to memory errors, I think it is a relatively accurate estimate.  Rock-climbing was 1-2 days/week habit for several years.  Skiing usually involved a significant trip or vacation and I was able to calculate a days/year value pretty easily.  I actually kept a record of all my kitesurfing sessions, so that one was the easiest.

After I added up the hours for each sport I was really surprised with my findings.  I had practiced ~400 hours in each of these sports.  After 400 hours of practice I had gone from being a complete rookie to looking like a master to all the rookies.  That is a clear distinction I would like to make.  I am not a master in any of these sports, but I am Good Enough.

What is Good Enough?  Well, Good Enough is a concept I use to  motivate myself to learn new hobbies, skills and sports.  It is so easy to fall into the mental trap that if you are going to learn any skill then the goal is to become a master.  Malcolm Gladwell says that we need to spend 10,000 hours in order to reach that level.  Most true masters have already reached 10,000 hours before they finish college and only get better over time.

I did not have any sport or hobby that dominated my childhood or college years.  I tried lots of different things and I have never found anything in my life that I could focus on for 10,000 hours.  On the other hand I have a long list of skills, hobbies and sports in which I would like to be Good Enough.

I am teaching myself how to play Guitar right now.  My goal is to play 35 mins/day and to have a cumulative total of 400 hours after two years.  Will that be Good Enough?  Only time will tell.  I do know that I won’t be a master by then but I will probably look like one to a rookie.

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