I’ve been walking around with the July/August 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review constantly, for close to three years. Sometimes, if I'm getting on a plane, I'll put it with the other heavy stuff into my luggage, and then get it out later. When my last car broke down in the middle of an intersection, I got the magazine out of the trunk before I abandoned the car.

The article that I'm attached to is The Making of an Expert by Anders Ericsson, Michael Prietula and Edward Cokely. I would not normally bother to tell you all three authors for one article in my blog. This is not a medical journal. But I love the article so much, that I want you to know all of them.

The article changed how I think about what I am doing here. In my life. I think I am trying to be an expert.

Being an expert is not what you think, probably. For one thing, the article explains that “there is no correlation between IQ and expert performance in fields such as chess, music, sports, and medicine. The only innate differences that turn out to be significant”?and they matter primarily in sports — are height and body size. ”

So what factor does correlate with success? One thing emerges very clearly is that successful performers “had practiced intensively, had studied with devoted teachers, and had been supported enthusiastically by their families throughout their developing years.”

There are a few things about the article that really make me nervous. The first is that you need to work every single day at being great at that one thing if you want to be great. This is true of pitching, painting, parenting, everything. And if you think management in corporate life is an exception, you're wrong. I mean, the article is in the Harvard Business Review for a reason.

It used to be, more than 100 years ago, that you could be a prodigy and come out of nowhere and be great. There are stories like that, ones we hang onto when we do things like watch the Olympics and allow ourselves to think, “Maybe I'll be on the luge team in 2014.”

Today the standard for being an international success at anything is so high that the authors say you need to spend at least ten years working in a very focused, everyday way on the thing you want to be great at. Evidence: high schools swimmers today would beat Olympic records from years ago. (And in fact, the importance of hard work over raw talent is the subject of the most popular Freakonomics column ever in the New York Times.)

This part of the research worries me because there is not a lot I have invested this much time in. Maybe the only thing is writing. I'm not sure.

Well, there are other things, but I'm not sure I could be great. Figure skating is a good example. I figure skated for ten years. I was good, until I went through puberty and then was clearly the wrong body type to be doing double flips. I should have been a basketball player. Maybe.

A lot of being great at something is having the right coaching, and part of the right coaching is someone telling you where you're not gonna make it and where you are. I'm not sure I have this right now.

But the coaching that successful experts get is special. According to the article, usually someone starts with a local coach, for anything, and then the person moves on to a coach who has achieved huge success himself. And people who practice very hard every day start to have a sense of who can be a coach who is capable of helping them succeed, and who is a coach they have outgrown.

An example the authors use is Mozart. Yes, he had innate ability, but also, his father was a professional violinist, skilled composer and wrote the first book ever on violin instruction.

I am panicking that maybe I am just figure skating again. Maybe I am doing something I'll never be great at. I worry about this because I don't actually know what I'm doing. Am I getting good at bringing a startup from fruition to exit? Am I getting good at writing career advice?

I am thinking, maybe, the thing I'm getting good at is living my life out in the open. But I'm starting to worry that it's like figure skating. Because I have a natural limit: I don't want my kids to be psycho from overexposure. The farmer doesn't like being on my blog, and I am not getting good coaching right now. I mean, I'm not getting any coaching, I don't think.

This reminds me of the day I realized that my figure skating coach was an alcoholic. My dad picked me up at the rink. He asked why my skate guards were on. I said I never went skating. I said, “I think Ivar is sick.”

My dad said, “Yeah. I've been thinking that for a while.”

I said, “I don't think he really can teach me any more.”

My dad said, “I've been thinking that for a while.”

I remember the heartbreak I felt knowing that I didn't have a teacher. I remember also realizing that it's important to know who can teach and who can't. If you are a person who wants to be an expert, the thing you want most is a teacher. I think that's why I carry the magazine with me everywhere I go. To remind me to look. Like my life depends on it.

But I’ve recently started reading research beyond the article, and it turns out that the teacher isn’t the important per se, but rather, what you need is immediate, helpful feedback. And this is what you get when you have a blog. So maybe I am still on my path to being an expert, and I’m just crowdsourcing my coaching.

200 replies
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  1. Alfred
    Alfred says:

    Once upon a time, I was working for an IT company. Due to various reasons, I ended up delivering several projects, which well took a toll on me.

    Fast forward a few years, I became the go to guy when stuff with the similar technology broke. Did I become an industry expert? Definitely not. In house expert, maybe. A guru for those whose week in Google-fu

  2. Stanley
    Stanley says:

    I partly agree and disagree with you regarding the statement of the requirements of being an expert. I do agree with you that being an expert takes a great deal of time. It also need coaching to provide feedback and mentoring for continual improvements until the relationship breaks down. However, I disagree with you stating that becoming an expert does not take significant amount of talent. In my mind, I think all three major components of time + effort, coaching + mentoring, determination, and talent. The reason for my statement is that if a person who’s talent in learning certain skills are so deficient that s/he would need 10000 hours to learn them as compared to a normal person (let’s say around 50 hours), wouldn’t that person become so discouraged to learn that particular skill?

  3. DebExo
    DebExo says:

    Penelope what if your expertise is the ability to integrate, evidenced through your writing…topics, perspectives, questions and insights that may seem on the surface as conflicting or opposed as yours often do…I believe that is what your blog is at its core – example – how you build/live a life out of your personal integrity with the farmer (whether you are together or not) in the heartland with your appetite for the high-energy, fast-paced, extreme diversity (of people, ideas, etc) of big city life.

    I recently read an article also in Harvard Business Review titled “How Successful Leaders Think” by Roger Martin, who studied successful leaders who are willing to embrace conflicting ideas or models. He found that these leaders, rather than defining their job as choosing from between opposing ideas, are inclined to reject the choice and instead seek a new and better model.

    You are seeking a new and better model…for your life, for your writing, for your business…and you are practicing, practicing, practicing…important ingredients to expertise.

  4. Liz Timoney-White
    Liz Timoney-White says:

    Loving this conversation. Talent is a hot topic right now in the UK at least for HR and learning professionals.

    I think it is partly experience that makes you an expert but without the talent you wouldn’t want to do all those hours in the first place!

    Talent is using those strengths in a way that you would willingly do for free, it’s effortless, part of you and makes you feel rewarded – Mihaly Cziksentmihaly in ‘Flow’ and the positive psychology guru, Marty Seligman (www.authentichappiness.org) – offers a free online test to find your signature strengths if you are interested?

    Finally – a good coach is for a project (I have used some for writing and some for work) whereas a good mentor is for the bigger picture and maybe decades if you get it right. Asking someone is incredibly flattering for them and I’m sure they’d say ‘yes.’Just think of who would be a perfect mentor for you and pick up the phone.

  5. Natasja
    Natasja says:

    Great article!
    Personally I believe that your inner drive will do most of the work. When you enjoy doing something, it’s easy to spend many hours on perfecting this skill. It all comes down to doing something you love as this will show through, like writing your blog posts. And concerning coaches, it’s great to have someone who’ll support you, but in my opinion it’s not the key factor.

  6. Ann's Rants
    Ann's Rants says:

    Not sure I’ve ever commented on your blog before, but this post really resonated with me.

    In my college “physics for poets” class, the professor said something that stuck with me. “Become really really good at something”

    I have switched careers a lot–first acting, then TV ad sales, a masters in social work, stay-at-home-mom..

    And now I’m a humor writer. Part of my obsessive fast-pace is that I yearn to have mastery over this craft. I want to excel, and enjoy the fulfillment that comes from staying the course.

    In therapy I recently discussed this very wish–of having a coach who is well versed in freelance writing, the specific challenges of humor writing, and building your platform through publication and social media. Someone could coach me on one of these aspects–but not the whole package. I’ll probably end up doing it for others eventually.

    So, I relate.

    Ann

  7. Emily Bennington
    Emily Bennington says:

    I like this post because, while true success is always the result of focus and hard work, a great teacher / mentor can shave years off the journey. I also wish I had one and I see from the other comments I’m not alone.

  8. Melani Ward
    Melani Ward says:

    Hey there,

    This is my favorite article you’ve written lately. I feel like you read my diary:) I also have that HBR article and wrote a similar post several months ago about this same thing. I actually determined all of the hours and years I spent studying and practicing certain disciplines and was frustrated to find out where I am with all of it. I constantly wonder if I’ll ever really be great at anything.

    This also reminds me of some research done by Jean Chatzky, Merrill Lynch and Harris Interactive and the study formerly known as the 2008 Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study. A poll was administered to more than 5,000 people and one of the findings was that the wealthiest people (of the 4 groups they identified) were far less likely to switch from major to major in college and were far less likely to have swapped in and out of careers. Many of the wealthy have JDs and MDs – degrees that set them up for one occupation they are likely to stick with over the long haul – again time, and experience devoted to a specific discipline. Many also identify their passions early on and there are of course tremendous benefits to consistency.

    As someone who has changed careers often this makes me nervous.

    (You can see all of the research in the book The Difference.)

    I agree that you need immediate feedback and that can be really hard to find these days. I am always looking for good teachers and people who love to mentor others. In looking back on my education and career(s) those teachers have made all the difference to me.

    Thanks!

  9. A brief history of farmer no 2
    A brief history of farmer no 2 says:

    Okay, so 10’000 hours with industrious endeavor,mix in some talent, pause and see if what makes you an expert is relevant to your community and those you mentor. Penelope is a no brainer for an A.
    The service industry is brimming with people who are experts with hidden talent who help and mentor people and are fullfilled. There is little “success” standard for this.
    The ability to inspire after 10,001 hours-this is noteworthy and significant.
    Very nice post.

  10. Carol Roth
    Carol Roth says:

    Hi Penelope,

    There are so many thought provoking issues here, I barely know where to begin.

    It is true that our society typically rewards people who are very focused and successful at one thing ("the expert"). We like superlatives like best, fastest, youngest, etc. Isn't it interesting though, that for many of us, our focus growing up was on being well-rounded. We couldn't go to the best colleges if we just excelled in one subject or activity- no, we had to be excellent (but not necessarily the best) at every subject and be involved in myriad extracurricular activities. This has led many a bright mind down a path of being a successful underachiever instead of a focused expert.

    I am one who advocates preparation and experience. To be successful in anything takes time and hard work. Nobody gets to hear about that part of the story because it isn't sexy, but with some lucky exceptions, most every overnight sensation (whether it is a business, expert, artist, etc.) has been working in a hard and focused manner for years.

    I have also learned that for people who are typically in the "advice-giving" role instead of the "advice-getting" role (which, given your blog and writing, I am speculating you are more often in the former), it is hard to find the encouragement you need in casual interactions amongst friends and peers. The best thing that I have done personally is to hire an appropriate advisor or advisors. It could be a coach, strategist, advisor- everyone's needs are different and dynamic over time, but for an "advice-giver", since you are paying for it, you get the benefit of actually focusing on your needs 100% of the time, instead of your normal routine of focusing on helping others.

    I would be happy to share some outstanding recommendations at any time.

    Carol Roth

  11. Mari Jenkins
    Mari Jenkins says:

    I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up and go to school with some fantastic teachers. I did not know till I grew up how incredibly lucky I was. I this has to give you a great foundation for everything you do, even if you want to be an expert ;)

  12. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Penelope and All,
    This article and all your comments are like a gold mine for career advice -hungry people like me! Thank you all for sharing!

  13. Jay
    Jay says:

    Pen, Naomi’s comments were right on the mark, though Eliz’s followups too–what’s obvious to some needs relating to others.

    You’re building a great network here. At some point, you should reach out to one and ask that person to be your coach / mentor. Or ask for suggestions for same.

  14. Simon Thompson
    Simon Thompson says:

    In my case I’ve found that making a million little mistakes has been what works. It takes abit longer that way but you start to learn to anticipate what it is you might do wrong eventually. In whatever your pursuit is I think if you know just about everything you shouldn’t do, you start to develope expertise, which is the first step, and then you have to be relentless chasing down potential mistakes and converting them because I think part of being an expert is being able to have all the answers. I hope that came out clear, I tend to ramble.

  15. Mark Porter
    Mark Porter says:

    #1 what have read about operating in a superstar economy? What you find out could be useful not just to you but a lot of other people. And #2, I cannot emphasize enough the power of Joseph Campbell to translate very smart and powerful things into succinct everyday understandable language. When in need of orientation and navigational clues, he's what I carry around with me.

  16. Steve Errey
    Steve Errey says:

    Hi P

    So what happens when you become this expert?

    Once you do your research, obsess about it as much as you want to, figure out what your expert thing is and then practice it until you feel you’ve got somewhere – what changes? What does being an expert do for you that isn’t there right now?

    While the process of becoming an expert is interesting in itself, what’s more interesting is the level above that, i.e. what meaning do you attach to that, what’s compelling about it and how does it change what you do?

    One more thought. I think we have the opportunity to become experts in all kinds of things (and those things will evolve over time), and I’m a great believer that you can only masterfully help other in something you’ve succeeded at yourself. Surely at the meta-level we’re all trying to become experts in being ourselves?

  17. Playstead
    Playstead says:

    Great post. Yes, the Gladwell stuff of 10,000 hours applies, but so does the first chapter of the book Nurtureshock where they found out that kids learn and respond better when they are praised for their hard work instead of their intelligence. Everyone is looking for a shortcut to success, but it really comes down to rolling your sleeves up and focusing. We’ve lost that in this country and need to get it back. There is also a fundamental lack of development as we get older. That’s why it’s important to work for a company that will not only pay you, but develop you. This is always first to go with budget cuts.

  18. John Mattucci
    John Mattucci says:

    This post instantly reminded me of research sourced in the book “This Is Your Brain On Music” by Daniel Levitin. He speaks about that the people commonly in the top of their class on average practice significant more than anyone else.

    In related specifically to being able to play a musical instrument, is that a person needs to log a certain amount of time of practice to truly become an expert, as the first comment on this mentions “10 000 hours”. Levitin mentions that a person like Beethoven basically started practice at such an early age that he was an expert by the time he was a teenager. It was not until that point that Beethoven wrote his greatest pieces.

    As someone starting his career this makes me think of two things. First, that eventually you can become an expert at something if you put enough time into it, no matter at what time in your life that you start. Of course if you started sooner you would become an expert sooner, sort of like investing. Second, people who are older than you most likely are better than you because they have been doing it longer, but if you’ve been doing practicing at something different, you can bring something to the table as well.

    I know Penelope has stressed that even people entering the work force have something to offer, even if they think they don’t.

  19. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    That Harvard Review article sounds almost exactly like the Scientific American article from their August 2006 article called “The Expert Mind” (now behind a paywall, but here’s a PDF http://wimse.fsu.edu/media/expert-mind.pdf). It comes to all the same conclusions that you outline from the HBR article. The secret to becoming an expert is 10 years of what they call “effortful study”, or continually attempting tasks just outside of your ability. Look at any so-called child prodigy and you’ll find that they were pushed into a huge amount of practice from a very early age.

    I actually think its great that it takes 10 years to become an expert because it is yet another nail in the coffin of the notion of destiny. It gives me a lot of hope to think that if I live an average lifespan that I’ve got plenty of time to become a world-class expert in one or more subjects.

  20. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou says:

    Three questions:
    a. Do you think you want to become an expert because the focus of concentrating on one thing would calm your mind and centre your life?

    b. Do experts regret spending 10 000 hours of their life on just one thing? I’m thinking of Olympic athletes after they step off of the podium.

    c. Is expert just another way of saying perfectionist?

  21. m
    m says:

    Hi P,

    I think you’re good at surviving(!) and succeeding in different situations – figuring out the path to your goals.

  22. Melissa Dutmers
    Melissa Dutmers says:

    Penelope, you will find balance with living your life in the open and respecting the wishes of your family and friends. There’s a line in the new movie, “Crazy Heart,” that reminds me of your struggle.

    “Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try.”

    Hang in friend. Being an expert takes balance too.

  23. Lasse
    Lasse says:

    @farouk

    Talent is not really a myth. Its definately a gift to have talent in a particular way. But talent is nothing if you dont have the WILL to succeed or to achieve something with that talent. Lets take a basketball player for example, playing with his friends in his hood all day long. Hes got great talent and has always been better than his friends. BUT – he will always remain as the talented boy from the neighborhood if he doesnt have the will to make something our of this talent.

  24. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Penelope –
    I’ve been following your blog for several months now, but have never commented. I don’t read it for the advice. I read it because you’re an interesting human being and through your stories, I get a sense of who you are, how you’ve struggled, and how your struggles and accomplishments are like/unlike my own. I read your blog because you’re engaged in the process of becoming an expert on how to live your own life. Just like me.

  25. Gabriel
    Gabriel says:

    It is true that you need to work hard every day to be an expert in whatever you do. But, some people can work 25 hours a day and still not get there…

    So it takes more than time and perseverance. I think talent and passion are essential – if you have these, the hard work will not be so painful.

  26. Dina
    Dina says:

    Coaching and mentoring is so important. But finding a good mentor is very tough. If you get stuck with a bad one, you may not realize it until you are too far down the path to switch. Bad mentors can instill bad habits which you may never be able to get rid of. One example is the “work-a-holic” mentality. The great mentors teach how to work more efficiently so you accomplish more than you peers/competitors. Bad mentors teach people to work longer hours.

  27. LJTabak
    LJTabak says:

    Some years ago the New Yorker ran a story summarizing an interesting study done in England. Piano students there apparently follow a standarized course, so it is relatively easy to idendify proficiency. The researchers took high achieving youth musicians and figured that they could find some sort of music gene or innate talent. Instead they found only two positive correlations: number of hours of practice and involved, supportive parenting. I believe the result is the same indicated by the other sources here as well as the HBJ article. Proficiency is within the grasp of many — but the Mozart example also shows that out of this many come a rare few whose particular talent matches the perfect learning environment. Hence the concert pianist, the Tiger Woods or the Roger Federer: the ideal confluence of nature and nuture. I had a writing prof who one day scoffed at the mention of a newly acclaimed author’s “first book.” “First published book, they mean,” he snorted, knowing that there were probably a mountain of previous manuscripts stashed somewhere. You can write a lot of pages in 10,000 hours. Presaging all these insights was 1930s tennis great Bill Tilden who wrote 60 years ago that you had to play several hours daily for 10 years before you knew how good you were.

  28. Socorro Luna
    Socorro Luna says:

    In my book you are an expert. You name the subject…you can do it! I like the advice on careers, your love life, your chilldren, your past…

    If your name is on it, I believe it!

  29. Daniel Castonguay
    Daniel Castonguay says:

    You might enjoy reading “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” by Daniel Coyle.

    Enjoy! Dan

  30. softwarecandy
    softwarecandy says:

    Which reminds me of Niel Bohr’s quote (the famous physicist): “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.”

    Replace “man” with “person”… :)

  31. Lisha Sterling
    Lisha Sterling says:

    I am an ice skating coach and a software developer. I spend a lot of time pulling my hair out while writing code and a lot of time laughing while on the ice. Coaching is the best job ever, except for the part about it paying bupkus where I live. There is nothing in the world like seeing students who didn’t think that they could do something suddenly get that skill and beam with pride. It doesn’t matter if they are 6 or 60, every new skill is a huge joy.

    One of the great things about coaching is that it’s a positive feedback loop. I give constant feedback to my students, and they give constant feedback to me — both by their performance, and by the things that they say to me about what is and isn’t working for them.

    Those lessons on the ice transfer to the rest of life, too, for me and for them. Whether they are going to be Olympic stars or not, the lessons about how to learn, how to work, and all the other little philosophical insights they don’t even know they are gaining, help in the other ventures in their life.

    So is your current venture “just figure skating”? Well, if it is, I hope that you take all the deep and powerful lessons you can away from it to apply to the next thing you do as you continue to blossom and grow.

  32. Stanley Lee
    Stanley Lee says:

    I partly agree and disagree with you regarding the statement of the requirements of being an expert. I do agree with you that being an expert takes a great deal of time. It also need coaching to provide feedback and mentoring for continual improvements until the relationship breaks down. However, I disagree with you stating that becoming an expert does not take significant amount of talent. In my mind, I think all three major components of time + effort, coaching + mentoring, determination, and talent. The reason for my statement is that if a person who’s talent in learning certain skills are so deficient that s/he would need 10000 hours to learn them as compared to a normal person (let’s say around 50 hours), wouldn’t that person become so discouraged to learn that particular skill?

  33. Sara
    Sara says:

    I totally agree. Outliers was a great book, basically said it took 10,000 hours to become very good at something. IQ after 120 doesn’t really matter. I’d make the argument that a very high IQ would be a detriment as it often hurts your emotional and social skills (EQ/SQ?).

  34. Daniel M
    Daniel M says:

    The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance is where the core of the research is. However, this idea first came up in the 1800s with Nietzsche…

    The seriousness of craft
    Speak not of gifts, or innate talents! One can name all kinds of great men who were not very gifted. But they acquired greatness, became “geniuses” (as we say) through qualities about whose lack no man aware of them likes to speak; all of them had that diligent seriousness of a craftsman, learning first to form the parts perfectly before daring to make a great whole. They took time for it, because they had more pleasure in making well something little or less important, than in the effect of a dazzling whole. For example, it is easy to prescribe how to become a good short story writer, but to do it presumes qualities which are habitually overlooked when one says, “I don`t have enough talent.” Let a person make a hundred or more drafts of short stories, none longer than two pages, yet each of a clarity such that each word in it is necessary; let him write down anecdotes each day until he learns how to find their most concise, effective form; let him be inexhaustible in collecting and depicting human types and characters; let him above all tell tales as often as possible, and listen to tales, with a sharp eye and ear for the effect on the audience; let him travel like a landscape painter and costume designer; let him excerpt from the various sciences everything that has an artistic effect if well portrayed; finally, let him contemplate the motives for human behavior, and disdain no hint of information about them, and be a collector of such things day and night. In this diverse exercise, let some ten years pass: and then what is created in the workshop may also be brought before the public eye.

    But how do most people do it? They begin not with the part but with the whole. Perhaps they once make a good choice, excite notice, and thereafter make ever worse choices for good, natural reasons.

    Sometimes when reason and character are lacking to plan this kind of artistic life, fate and necessity take over their function, and lead the future master step by step through all the requisites of his craft.

    Nietzsche
    Human, All Too Human

  35. Mel B
    Mel B says:

    This blog and comments are tending toward the topic of “innovation” and “personal innovation.” How does one nurture innovation? I would like to offer one suggestion. Read some of the work by Dean Roger Martin of The Rotman School of Managemeent at The University of Toronto on the subject of “Integrative Thinking.” Roger Martin studied for ten to fifteen years how successful people in many disciplines think and then he summarized his findings in “Integrative Thinking.” If everyone tried to cultivate “Integrative Thinking” concepts in their everyday lives, they would find many win-win situations rather than have to accept compromises along the way.

    “Integrative Thinking” means taking into account many more salient features of a situation than would be taken in by a conventional thinker, then trying to discern the interrelatedness of various cause and effect scenarios, looking at the holistic architecture of the situation and then seeking a “resolution” that takes the best of opposing viewpoints to create anew viewpoint.

    Look it up and see how it applies to most of what has been commented here.

  36. Nick Cord
    Nick Cord says:

    I agree that being an expert takes time, you really need to work hard on it. However, talent is something that incredibly speeds up the procedure. Most of the experts are the ones who combined their talents with years of hard work. So, we cannot ignore talent, in my opinion.

  37. Bob Braxton
    Bob Braxton says:

    I am in my sixties and my non-profit organization retired me at the end of June, 2009. For more than three decades I served in programming, systems analyst work, systems administration, data base administration, consulting and tech support. My first work almost fifty years ago (at age fifteen) was residential construction in rural North Carolina. I am well into my own ten thousand hours as a writer. Also I suspect (undiagnosed) Asperger’s. The expertise to which I aspire is to live a happy life, especially as a relatively new grandparent. Thank you for this blog.

  38. Corona Homes For Sale
    Corona Homes For Sale says:

    The importance of hard work over raw talent, hard work can only take you so far. I think of two movies, the firs Rudy the story of a college football player the was too small to slow but worked at it harder then any other player on the team. His wok ethic was off the charts and it only took him to a practice player. Second Movie The pursuit of happiness, Thandie Newton. A struggling salesman worked hard and face hard times and long odds. But in the end had the talent and the skill set to achieve the highest level of success.

  39. Chris
    Chris says:

    I absolutely agree with you.

    Well, I’m running a website ( http://www.shiroinekoonline.com ) selling T-shirts and, before I’ve created the whole website, I thought everything was going to be easy because my t-shirts are cool. However, it was real hard to find a customer. Because, I think, there’re more than 1000000 sites that sell t-shirts and how can they find me is the mystery.

    Then, I learnt about seo stuffs and etc. I just realized that it wasn’t easy at all.

    To be a successful person can take a really long long time.

    So, my advice, stick to it until you dig it.

  40. Joe
    Joe says:

    Penelope,

    This is a great post, but I think that you might want to consider what additional things, the things you don’t think of, will blossom from your work. Life is not linear, and neither is personal growth.

    As an example, what additional things came of your skating other than being a great skater. i.e. better physical endurance, increased mental toughness? You may be sharpening talents that you are not even thinking of.

    Best of luck!

  41. Karena
    Karena says:

    Penelope, so happy that I found you through Maria,. I love Malcolm Gladwells books. Love is the Killer App IS ANOTHER GREAT BOOK WRITTEN BY Tim Sanders Yahoo’s Director of in-house Think tank.
    I know that blogging has opened up my world to new ideas, new ways of connecting with people. The encouragement is great!

    Karena
    Art by Karena

  42. John Jones
    John Jones says:

    I agree with many of the opinions. It takes ages to become an expert; I have ended up being wel versed in may aspecits of life, marketinf and industry but master of none. I endup running a business, went well but never quite reached the peak due to me not being master of management. I will follow these postes. John

  43. Hari Luker
    Hari Luker says:

    A reason we can’t find experts in a workplace is that few of us ever get immediate, useful feedback, let alone find mentors and teachers. Many large corporate environments have feedback systems – reviews or objectives that are typically set to be met so everyone can claim success up the chain of command

    Meaningful, instructional, feedback is tough to find, in my experience. But if someone is motivated to grow and develop expertise in a particular area, they can find what they need if they are willing to seek it out.

  44. John Thomas
    John Thomas says:

    You know, there’s a ton of great stuff in this post and the follow-on comments. I guess my own experience as a soccer player and then as a coach has made me who I am, in many ways. Why? Because my coaches always instilled in me a belief and vision that was bigger than I could identify for myself. That I “controlled my own destiny” that if I “think I can – I can”. This overriding theme has carried me to the point I was at a few years ago. When I stopped believing in myself and started falling… hard.
    Now, a new coach has picked up where the others had left off – now I dream bigger and bigger each day. I set goals and I work my backside off to achieve them. True – my careers have changed over the years, but that’s the beauty – I keep learning new things, and yes, it takes a ton of time! But the journey of life is a long one, not to measured in speed, but in the distance traveled. As a final thought – the single longest distance you (or I) will ever travel is that 6-inches between your ears. Give yourself up to that and learn and expand as much as you can – Dream Big and Never Let Anyone Say You Can’t.

  45. versos amor
    versos amor says:

    Life experience is knowledge. The best way to get good is just living. In my area, writing for http://www.versosamor.com.br was simply experience, I have never studied about love, I studied computers, but today I write, and people like (I believe so :)).
    Don´t just study – LIVE.

  46. Joaquin De la Sierra
    Joaquin De la Sierra says:

    I’m convinced that becoming an expert at anything takes several years. I read in a book that “mastering” an art such as piano or writing takes around 10,000 hours of work. And then there’s something beyond mastery that very few people have managed to accomplish, such as Beethoven.

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