Master Your Craft A ball park figure thrown around by various authors (Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers" and Csikszentmihalyi in a recent TED talk) is 10,000 hours of effective practice. This is how much you should be ready to invest in your craft before acquiring the knowledge and expertise to really shine. That is 3 hours a day for 10 years! Are you hungry enough for such a commitment? For the virtuosos, making such a commitment is a no-brainer. Take Maxim Vengerov for example. A violinist who gave his first recital aged 5, he recounts his younger years as follows; "My mother would get home at 8pm, cook dinner and then teach me the violin until four in the morning. As a four-year-old boy it was torture. But I became a violinist within two years." - Times Article An important factor we must not forget however, is that of innate ability. Personally, I don't believe in "talent" - the mystical and unattainable skill set, only granted down by the gods to select individuals who never have to work for it. What I do believe however is that within us, we all have unique and individuals callings. If Tiger Woods started playing basketball at the same age he started playing golf, yes he would be an amazing basketball player, but would he play like Michael Jordan? No. So there are numerous other factors to consider in the cultivation of true mastery. Namely, genetics, the environment, and the amount of mentoring available. I am a musician, what should I do? 1. Find your "calling". You can usually find hints about what this is by asking yourself the following questions. What are you naturally good at? What do people (not just friends and family) say you are good at? In what activities does time seem to fly by quickly? As a kid, what did you gravitate towards the most? What, if you don't do enough of, leaves you feeling a little empty inside? Once you know what your calling is, you may move onto the next step. 2. Dedicate at least 3 hours a day, everyday, to mastering your 'calling'. Whether that is making beats, writing songs, or mixing and mastering, put aside time to truly learn and develop your craft. I do understand that a lot of people may have personal commitments which make this impractical. For example I am still at University, and during term time, achieving such consistency is near impossible. However, we are now on a summer break and I am putting in well over 8 hours a day in various aspects of my endeavors (business & music) to make up for the lost time. Find ways to adapt. Thomas Edison for example resorted to power naps and a mere 4-5 hours of sleep a night! 3. Get a mentor. This part is ignored by many when in fact it is just as important as the first 2 points. You may say there are no mentors where you are, but with the internet, you don't need to find your way into Timbaland's studio to be the next Danja for example. If you are a producer, why not enter beat competitions? I did this in my earlier years at IllMuzik and it accelerated my progress. Perhaps not as much as having Dr. Dre by my side would have done, but had I not entered the competitions, there would have been no way of judging my skills and finding some objective measures of progress. This applies to singers and rappers as well. If you can't find a mentor, enter as many competitions as possible! Tune in next week for Part 2.