10,000 hours

I'm loving watching the Olympics. It seems it's all I've been doing. I've not been reading the things I want to, writing the things I need to. No, all Jim and I do each night is watch the Olympics. We even eat dinner downstairs in front of the TV, something we typically do only on Friday nights.

But, like I said, I'm loving it. And I'm not even a very sports-minded person. The passion, sweat, determination, dedication, perseverance and years of training culminating in those brief moments to prove one's excellence are fascinating. And heartbreaking for those who stumble during what could have been their moment of glory.


As I watch the Olympics, I can't stop thinking of Malcolm Gladwell. No, he's not some champion athlete that you're not remembering. He's a writer. And he wrote the surprisingly interesting -- no, fascinating -- book called Outliers: The Story of Success.

In "Outliers," Gladwell posits that practice makes perfect ... in any and all pursuits. Success comes to those who work at it, regardless to a certain degree of their innate talent. Those who have the money and opportunity to work at their passion/pursuits day in and day out, for hours and hours (10,000 hours, to be exact), will indeed succeed. Mozart did it, the Beatles did it, Bill Gates did it, Michael Phelps did it.

Gladwell can explain it better than I can (obviously), so watch his interview with Anderson Cooper (I heart AC!). It's pretty interesting stuff:

My only question: How can I tally up the hours and hours I've put into writing to see how close I am to success? And do the hours I've spent thinking about writing count? And reading about writing? And dreaming about writing? Maybe if I add ALL of those hours together, maybe -- just maybe -- I'll find that I'm within just a few short hours of 10,000, of success, of hitting it big.


Today's question:

In an average day, what do you spend the most hours doing and is it what you think you SHOULD be doing?

My answer: Reading -- blogs, magazines, the newspaper, books. What I really should be doing is writing more ... and more ... and more.

Bird song

About a year and a half ago, I started taking piano lessons. I've always wanted to learn to play and the key elements in allowing me to do that at my advanced age lined up in early 2008: The sale of our previous home provided funds to purchase a gorgeous old oak upright and I had a friend who had a friend who was kicking off a career as a piano teacher and looking for adult students. Oh, and I had a regular income that afforded weekly lessons ... which is no longer the case so I'm down to just twice a month for now which may not seem like a huge difference but, believe me, it is.

But anyway, the lessons were my first exposure and instruction in reading music. And although I'm very far from the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell posits in Outliers is the key to expert status in any endeavor, I'm getting better and no longer have to recite every good boy does fine or great big dogs fight always every single time when trying to find my spot on the scale. (I just have to do it sometimes now.) My newfound skill has given me a sincere appreciation for written music.

Pair that appreciation with my fondness for wild birds and a lifelong fascination with the way they perfectly space themselves on electrical wires (yeah, I'm weird) and you'll see why I find the following short video so beautiful. Regardless of your musical or avian interests, I think you'll be impressed by the creativity of the man who created this, too.*

In his own words, Jarbas Agnelli says: Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating. Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds).

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

*I really don't like posting a video two days in a row, but this one was hard to pass up.