“If I don’t practice for 3 hours a day, I can tell a difference. If I don’t practice 2 hours a day, my orchestra can notice a difference. And if I don’t practice at least 1 hour in a day, the audience can tell the difference.” A friend was telling me how a guy who plays an instrument in an orchestra was loosely quoted as saying.

Anything that you love, be it writing, flying a helicopter or aircraft, speaking, or any creative endeavor, whatever it is, requires dedication. If you’re going to truly master it, it takes work. It requires you to delve into it. Almost anyone who has truly mastered something has said that there is no real way around this. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an entire book about how to become successful with what you do, it takes 10,000 hours to master anything.

Even if you are a child prodigy, it just means you start your art at a higher level, but it’s in the practice of what you love that you gain speed, and over the years, that you become that which you are destined. Your flow, your unique expression doesn’t happen overnight simply because you found that which moves you in your heart. It’s the act of doing that which changes you and brings your true destiny into your unique form. It’s constantly doing it wrong, or taking yourself down different roads that you eventually find yourself more than comfortable enough to explore roads that you didn’t know were inside you, because you are stumbling upon them as you create. Just take each step as it comes.

I’m a snow skier, and I’ve spent the winter skiing almost every single day that I’ve been able, and I can tell the difference if I’ve missed a day of skiing hard. A breakthrough will appear in my abilities, and then I’ll go back, like a rubber band. If I don’t keep practicing, I lose ground, and I can feel the difference, and I can see it, too. A second run down any powder face, almost always I ski it better than I did upon first descent. They say and I can see how it’s true…  it takes 10,000 hours.

My father is a painter of houses, a humble job. And yet, if you saw him paint, you would see magic. He moves lithely from ladder to bench, one wall to the next, spreading the paint with his brush in each stroke, delicate not to mark the edge, without any barriers of tape, just the knowing of his brush as an extension of himself. He’s about 60, but I imagine that when he was 20, just starting out, he didn’t thrush paint onto the walls so swiftly and with such ease. But he is a master. He’s been called the best on the island that he inhabits. He does not just do it, he does it with gusto, and he does it as a master would. But he’s spent the last 40 years delving into this craft. And while I admire his abilities, the thing is, anyone could be him, but everyone is not.

The purpose is not to arrive at master, but it’s the process you experience when you do it that becomes the reward. It’s the art of doing anything, not the thinking about it, that brings a fulfillment, a flow in your life that will spread into everything that you do. And when you put yourself into something, you become it, you become one with whatever it is. The progression is a daily, or moment by moment experience of moving up to the next level. 

A woman once heard mozart playing the piano once and came to him after the end of the concert. She said something to the effect of, “I would give my life to play like that.” He said, “lady I have.”

Keep doing whatever you love, just take one step at a time, and keep delving into it, diving deeper into yourself along the way. Because it’s not just about success that you’ll feel fulfilled, it’s expressing whatever you love into the world that brings you joy. And with each stroke of a brush, each creative word, or flight you take, you can use that as a way to know yourself more deeply, to push yourself past the limits of what you think is possible for you in your life. 

Don’t think about any of it, just keep doing it.

It takes 10,000 hours...

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