To become good at anything, we must work through the pain.
Malcolm Gladwell refers to this as the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers. Most successful people put in 10,000 hours of practice, work, or experience before they become successful. But if you’re like me, you have a tendency to give in to the discomfort or pain and bail out long before the 10,000 hour mark.
There are two areas in my life that I routinely avoid. The first is exercise. The second is writing. I need to exercise to stay healthy and keep me out of a nursing home before I’m 55. I need to write because I know that the more I write, the better my writing is. And yet, I can find almost anything to distract me from exercising and writing. In fact, as I’m writing this blog right now, I got coffee and checked my email. Maybe I’m really an expert avoider. I’ve probably logged in 10,000 hours of avoiding. Ugh.
I’m a big fan of American Idol. I love watching these young people showcase their talent. And what really impresses me is how much work goes into their 3 minute performances. Every star that offers these contestants advice always pleads with them to never give up and to practice, practice, practice.
The same principle applies to us – whether we’re superstars or average Joe’s. We need to buckle down and do the work so that we get better and experience more success. It could be writing reports, doing laundry, or running a meeting. Everything can be improved spending time working on it. That’s how successful people succeed. They just do it. But it’s often the pain of spending the time that prevents most of us from getting there.
So, in all areas of our life and work, we must work through the pain if we’re ever going to succeed. And that’s where the fun comes in. I’m a big believer in finding ways to make the routine, mundane, and painful experiences in our lives more fun. We just need to spend a little time figuring it out.
My friend David Glickman has developed a great way to exercise. He converted a closet into a workout “den”. The space is just big enough for an exercise bike and a shelf that holds movies and a small video player. He works out on the bike and watches movies. It keeps him entertained as he works through the pain. And that way, the pain is not so bad. Especially, if you’re watching a movie with Scarlett Johansson. But I digress.
Do it Well. Make it Fun. The concept is simple. The execution takes work. You need to work through the pain.