Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule. Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle. Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours. You want to be a great musician? Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours. You want to be a great scientist? Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours. Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status. You can read more here.
My attention, sadly, has always been divided. I have always had too many irons in the fire. I have been too interested in too many things. I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!” Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise. Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.
I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert. What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus. Hopefully, it is not too late for you.