10,000 Hours for Zuckerberg and Lil Wayne

Category: Work

Published: 04/13/2011 06:54 p.m.

I had a conversation the other day with Glenbot that then continued with Happy Katie about what 10,000 hours can do for a person. I've talked about 10,000 hours before, but this was more about what happens after you hit your 10k.

We first started talking about Lil' Wayne. I've been a fan of his since he put out Tha Block is Hot when I was in high school. Since that time he has released several albums to much success, and in my opinion is one of the top rappers in the game right now. I watched a documentary about him called The Carter and it became apparent that he is such a great rapper because of his deep focus on it. When he traveled in the movie, all he did was record. No notepaper for lyrics, just a beat and a mic and he was set.

With that type of focused effort, he has surely hit 10,000 hours of recording music and rapping. He may have hit that mark years ago. The effects of his effort are being seen now with his record sales, but I think they also show up in other ways. Lil' Wayne is now an entertainer as much as he is a rapper. He goes on tour and drops lyrics on other artist's tracks and travels the world rapping. He has built a persona. He is more than a rapper, and I believe that is only because he hit his 10,000 hours long ago.

Switching gears, let's look at another young success: Mark Zuckerberg. Back in his days at Harvard, and on into his first summer in California, Mark and his team wrote code. They wrote lots of it. They were dedicated to putting out code to build up their product, Facebook. While I don't use Facebook, I have a ton of respect for the people who built it and for the success they have created so far. In the first half of the 2000's, I think Mark Zuckerberg also hit his 10,000 hours. And just like Lil' Wayne, I think Mark is now much more than a programmer. With his success in leading his team to develop the top website in the world, Mark has grown to become bigger than himself. He represents an entire generation who live much of their lives out on the internet. And it's because he hit his 10,000 hours that he is able to do more.

The classic examples from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers like The Beatles, Mozart, and others who hit 10k also show signs of becoming bigger than themselves. The Beatles live on today in the minds of many as the most successful band of all time. Same for Mozart in the world of composing. They have all become something different than their original skill, and something bigger.

The pattern here is that diving deep on a subject and hitting 10k hours does much more than make you an expert. It opens up avenues to other things.