While hundreds of thousands of fans flock to South Africa to watch the World Cup, a more intimate crowd gathers in Natick, MA to cheer on their hometown soccer teams. Every summer, local companies compete in a friendly yet intense season of soccer. I’m proud to be a part of these humble Tuesday-night games.
I’ve played soccer all my life. Although I’ve dabbled at halfback, I’m a true fullback at heart. As a child, I was excellent. (Yes, that’s me in the picture) However, I gave up soccer in High School in order to run cross country.
During college, a group of friends invited me to play on their intramural team. I enthusiastically agreed. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they were all much better than I was. After every game, the emotion I felt more powerfully than the elation of winning or pain of losing was frustration at my own inadequacy. Why were they so much better? Why was I so much worse?
The answer came to me after a particularly devastating loss. They were better because they had practiced. I was worse because I had not.
Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book Outliers that mastery of any skill requires 10,000 hours. “Gifted” people are generally not much more gifted than anyone else – they have simply invested more time and effort. We can gain virtually any skill we desire if we are willing to dedicate ourselves.
Mastery requires trade-offs. To be excellent at any one thing, you must be willing to be mediocre at something else.
Where are you earning your 10,000 hours? What trade-offs are you making? Is it worth it?