There is a common thread that runs through most (if not all) of the people who are the best at what they do. Malcolm Gladwell famously stated in his book Outliers that it takes about 10,000 hours to master anything. As an average, I have no problem agreeing with his statement.
If being the best is important to you, you must practice your craft everyday. When I take a few days off from writing I get rusty. I’ve written four books, thousands of blog post and articles. I’m still far from a master writer. It may take me well more than 10,000 hours.
I’ve certainly earned my 10,000 hours in the field of photography. I can pick up a camera and create a strong image with little effort. The barrier to master writing is higher than photography. Honestly, I may never master writing. Yet, if I want my writing to get better, I must write everyday. To take my photography to a new level or develop my skill as a creative photographic thought leader — I must create new images everyday.
Early in my career, as a newspaper photographer, I photographed everyday. My regular practice gave me strong creative photography skills and improved my portfolio greatly. Currently, I’m doing a large project photographing products everyday. Surprisingly, I see great improvement in the skills I thought I already had — in just a few weeks. I still have three months before my project ends, I’m looking forward to all of the new skills I will learn.
You are never done and you will never arrive. Keep practicing until the end.
If you professionally practice too many skills at one time, it makes you average. You must have a strong core talent. Develop complementary skills over time to keep your enthusiasm and separate yourself from the competition. Although I love marketing and communication, I waited later in life to begin to refine those skills and present them to the marketplace.
You can’t let life get in the way. It’s not an excuse. You have the same amount of time as everyone else in the world. Twenty-four hours a day. If you want to be the best, you must figure out how to practice your craft everyday. If you don’t, don’t ask why it’s not working.
This post is an update from my 2015 version.