This sentence is frequently used in motivational video clips, motivational talks, deceitful salesmen, etc. And that’s the reason I don’t really like it that much.

But it’s also true.

I’m a web developer and, I think, a not bad one. But the truth is I’ve been training the last 10 years to become one, every day, all day and, this is important, I like it. I truly love coding. I enjoy solving the puzzle of a problem and finding the best solution for it. So 10 years doing what motivates you isn’t a big deal.

But, if we take a look to my first works, let’s say the ones in the first three years, they are horrific. Messy. Tasteless. Inefficient. God, I wasn't good at all. It’s quite common, by the way. Ask any developer for his first years and all of them will roll their eyes with embarrassment. And why developers? It doesn’t matter at all. Ask the same question to anybody who has been doing a job for long time, an "expert". Nobody is specially proud of the beginnings.

Makes sense, right? Unless you’re a gifted person in any field, you’ll have to work a lot to became an expert. Even if you are, you have to cultivate your gift or it’d be worthless.

It’s easy to see the difference between a hard-working and a gifted person. Football (and The Simpsons) always has the answer. Messi is the perfect example of a gifted guy. He plays "easy", natural, like it doesn’t require an extra effort for him. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, is the perfect example of a hard-working one. He trains more than the rest, he goes to the gym after the regular training to keep training. While for one to give the 100% is inherent, the other has to work (very) hard to be at the same level.  

So, if you want to master something you need work and, therefore, you need time. It’s commonly repeated that 10.000 hours is the amount of time that you have to invest to master something. This is based on a quote from Malcolm Gladwell’s book "Outliers" but, as many quotes "meme size", it’s usually misunderstood or half-true.

A very big amount of time (not specifically 10.000h) is mandatory to master a skill but you must have in mind a couple of rules:

  • Don’t try to master something that you don’t like. You could paint for years but if you don’t like it, you’ll never become a great artist.
  • You have to have a minimum background on what you want to achieve. Don’t try to become a Sumo Wrestler if you weight 65Kg.
  • Understand the difference between "want to know something" and "want to master something". I like to play the guitar, but I know that I don’t want to invest the required time to become a professional.
  • There’s no shortcut. I’m sorry, this is non-negotiable. Forget the "Learn English with 1000 words" or "After two weeks you’ll be able to play your first piano song". Aren’t they true? Yes, they are. But nobody wants to listen to you playing "Für Elise" again and again and again.

It could seem too much time so the sooner the start, the better.

In fact, this is an experiment for me. I want to improve and master my English skills. My current level is "poor", being benevolent. I don’t expect so much people to read this and even less to be interested on it. I do this only for me, to look at it five years in the future, be embarrassed of it and check how much I’ve improved.