This could be you. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book OUTLIERS, he writes about the 10,000 hours of practice required of talented people in any field to become the best. The whole book is a fascinating read but somewhat disappointing in that without a fortuitous mix of ability, determination, and luck (including birth date), most of us aren’t going to become the next version of Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, or the Beatles. Given the odds and the complications, becoming one of the truly Elite probably isn’t a good career plan for the vast majority of us.

The book might serve as a huge excuse as to why things didn’t come up roses in terms of the metrics of the big world: Fame, Fortune, Happiness, Gold-plated Water Bottle. Or, it might be an inspiration for all of us to do what we can with what we’ve got.

According to my arithmetic, it will take you 10 years to get your hours in if you practice 20 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. You can make it big, if you’ve got the goods, and even have a two-week vacation every year along the way.

Say you’re willing to settle for something less than Paul McCartney’s status, say your abilities run more along the lines of barber or mechanic. If you have a passion for barbering, or mechanicking, you could have one of those professions under your belt by the time you were 30. You could even try the other one, or some other one, and another one after that and so on. You might make Bill Gates envious but then he probably won’t notice you. Who cares?

If you find your talents are in the area of Shooting the Breeze and Writing About It, you might feel better at your next high school class reunion if you take the position that your life is your art form. That’s what I’ve done.

There are good reasons for thinking this way. Among them: You don’t have to do much of anything at all. You already have a lot of experience practicing your art form. You have been dedicated to your life all your life, no lack of passion there, even if you are a bum.

And you got your 10,000 hours in before your 10th birthday. This doesn’t include nap time, sleeping time, and the times in the crib when you were just lollygagging around.

It’s the same old story, Life is what you make of it. Even if you don’t make anything of it, by the time you pass on you will have lived. Might as well enjoy it.