100 hours or 1,000 hours – A Concept That Has Been Bothering Me

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22131 – 702:

Many of you may remember that this whole streak of making at least one post per day, even if it is just one sentence, started with a blog post I read by a marketing maven named Seth Godin. He had been blogging for 11 years and never missed a post. I took it as a personal challenge even though he has so many people that not only read him but are signed up for his classes and what-not-all that I could not possibly have been a target but yet what he had said resonated in my mind on a deep level.

Back in July, he wrote another post called “The 100 Hour Asset” that has just been similarly stuck in my mind. The whole post is only 169 words by my reckoning and I do suggest you read it if you have a couple of minutes. You don’t have to read it to understand this post though.

His statement was that if you picked any skill and spent 100 hours learning and practicing it, you could have an impressive asset that not everybody has. It could be a physical skill like sharpening tools or something specific in your own line of work or interest like writing Javascript. The point being, that if you can focus on something for that amount of time you can build something. string a few of them together and you have some real assets.

Then, what he said next has stuck in my mind and I’ve tried to ignore it but it keeps popping back up in my mind like a revved-up whack-a-mole game. What if you focused 1,000 hours, 20 hours a week, on learning something. That’s a whole new category entirely. The last sentence of the post says, “Access to knowledge isn’t nearly as difficult as the desire to learn.”

“So what, Herb?” people might say, “It’s a very cool concept, but what’s the matter with you?” I don’t know. This just really has been bugging me. I’ve got writing projects to work on and online classes waiting for me to open them up on Udemy.com (They are all ones I got on sale. If you use Udemy you should always wait for a sale. I have discovered that Seth’s stuff, even on Udemy, never goes on sale.). “What are you talking about?” I don’t have any articulate way to express what I am feeling as I have been thinking about this post but I am going to be making some changes. I will still keep my commitment to posting every day in my blog here but I have more that I can learn and do.

25 Comments

  1. Herb I have been reading these comments and the opinions are amazing. and yes I have one to. What Seth says is OK I guess, and probably true. But it appears to me that he never heard the words “Follow Your Heart” If you love something spend the hundred hours. If not Don’t. The skill isn’t worth the trouble.

    I’ll Spend My 100 hours looking at sunsets and laughing. More people should

    • That is definitely a good past-time. After reading everyone’s opinions and comments I agree that if you find something you love to do then a hundred or a thousand hours isn’t too much otherwise it’s a waste of time.

  2. The problem with this philosophy is that it’s also a fallacy, demonstrably so. There are many, many bad writers out there who write a lot of incredibly bad fiction, and they’ve been doing it for years, and they’re completely resistant to any notion that they might actually improve, which is something they’ll never do no matter how many hours they dedicate to it. At a certain point most of us are going to hit a plateau in our ability to understand something, the level at which we decide we’re “good enough” and everything after that point is a replicate of that level, no matter how many more hours and repetitions are made. I can absolutely assure you this is true. It’s a fallacy to suggest otherwise. Even when you consider a renaissance man, the achievement isn’t a mastery of multiple disciplines but the willingness to tackle them in the first place, which is what makes such a person unusual. And then you’ll usually find they’ve engaged in interrelated disciplines.

    In your case you’ve demonstrated the ability to maintain a regular blogging schedule, which is excellent for dedication, and you’ve filled your blogging with interesting things (it would be another thing entirely if it was drivel, of which anyone could do consistently). Stephen King advocates writing every day. In his case it results in being an incredibly prolific author. It doesn’t mean everything he publishes is on par with his best work, but he certainly is productive.

    The most you can assume is that working on a particular goal for an extended period will get results. Whether or not the results are positive remains a subjective phenomenon.

    • Thank you so much. As I think on it, what you say makes sense. There’s a lot in it to chew on. And I wonder, too, if it doesn’t depend on the vocation we’re talking about as well. There is a plateau in everything. I think that’s probably true, but if you only spend 100 hours trying to climb the mountain side to get there and it is a thousand hour journey to the top…well, maybe there are a lot of times I have quit climbing and settled for less. I like the Bradbury quote that says, “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.” I think somewhere in the equation is passion and interest as well. The things that I feel strongly about I can put more into and the things I enjoy, like creating shaggy dog stories that end in puns, I do with relish. I’ve read Stephen King’s “On Writing” a couple of times. For me, personally, I think I feel I need to develop more good habits similar to blogging every day. You make several valid points and give a lot of food for thought. To me I guess the 100 hours or 1000 hours is less a goal on a time clock than a symbol of what can be accomplished by, as they say across the pond, “Sheer bloody-mindedness.”

      • I would have to agree that practice doesn’t make perfect. However, practice paired with a teachable spirit and dedication to excellence can take you a very long way. Dedicating 1,000 hours to something will at least tell you if you are able to hit a level of excellence whereas 100 hours simply proves you are capable of learning a new skill and may tell you whether or not you enjoy that skill enough to dedicate 1,000 hours.

  3. I think balance is the most important thing. If you’re creating tension for yourself by being really goal-oriented, I don’t think that helps you. Being productive is satisfying for most of us, but being “driven” usually isn’t satisfying.

    • Well, I think you are right. Being driven is not the same as being passionate about something and I don’t think we ( read “I”) always know the difference. But the way I am built I have to have some kind of goals or deadlines or something or I will not make it a priority.

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