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Go Home They Said, Stop Working Late They Said
It’s snowing heavy, and it’s very icy outside. Yet, someone in the office forgets it’s even snowing outside because he is so caught up in work for another 3 hours. Then it takes forever to get home just to find him working at the home office.

Sounds like someone needs to slow down.
Sounds like someone is working too hard.
Well if you have not guessed it by now, that someone was me.
So tell me this, how long does it take to become elite at your craft? What do the people who master their goals do differently than the rest of us?

John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, did a great deal of research to find out. He investigated the role of practice, effort, raw talent, and knowledge of top performers for decades, people like Picasso and Mozart, to determine how long it actually took them to become “elite.”

Just One More Hour

Time is the most valuable commodity that we as human beings have.

What if the difference between where you are and where you want to be was the difference of one more hour? If I told you if you worked out one more hour in the gym you would get that six pack you coveted as you scroll Instagram, I bet you would give one more hour. But you are smarter than that. Just one hour won’t change it but just one more hour consistently over time will. Same thing with anything you want to do.

From age three, then, Wolfgang had an entire family driving him to excel with a powerful blend of instruction, encouragement, and constant practice. He was expected to be the pride and financial engine of the family, and he did not disappoint.

 

You do want to be at the top of your craft right? I am assuming you answered with a yes and if so, you have to put in the hours to achieve it. Mozart practiced at least 6 hours a day at his craft, and he had to work ten years before he produced something that became popular. But we all know how he turned out, and the crazy thing is as much natural talent that Mozart had, he still had to practice to refine and control it.

Hayes studies show that you need to put in “10,000 hours” to become a genuine expert in your field. To put that to scale there are 8760 hours in one year. My industry is not a “set it and forget it” industry. Common marketing, social media, writing, and branding practices change all the time. Strategies change. Humanity changes which completely changes the language, the approach, and analyzing audiences to project ROI, engagement, and positive brand reception.

But yes I love what I do. I was born and made to do this. God has blessed me with the willpower, work ethic, passion, creativity, energy, motivation, support and mentor team, and hunger to do so. So whatever you are passionate about or want to get better at, you just have to keep training, keep losing sleep, and keep putting in those hours.

But It’s Not Just About Putting In A High Quantity Of Hours But Focusing On Achieving A Goal Through Those Hours

When most people talk about working hard, they use the amount of time they worked as an indicator of “how hard” they worked. Example: I worked 60 hours this week! Putting in a significant amount of time might make you tired, but only working a lot (even if it’s 10,000 hours over the course of your career or more) is not necessarily of itself enough to make you a top performer (though it undoubtedly is a milestone). It’s not the same thing as practicing deliberately. Most people who think they are working hard are merely developing the skill of being in the gym, not the ability to run a marathon at a particular time or doing a certain amount of reps in a specific time consistently.
Here’s an analogy from Aubrey Daniels:

Consider the activity of two basketball players practicing free throws for one hour. Player A shoots 200 practice shots, Player B shoots 50. The Player B retrieves his own shots, dribbles leisurely and takes several breaks to talk to friends. Player A has a colleague who retrieves the ball after each attempt. The colleague keeps a record of shots made. If the shot is missed the colleague records whether the miss was short, long, left or right and the shooter reviews the results after every 10 minutes of practice. To characterize their hour of practice as equal would hardly be accurate. Assuming this is typical of their practice routine and they are equally skilled at the start, which would you predict would be the better shooter after only 100 hours of practice?

 

Both players in the example above could brag about practicing for one hour, but only one of them is practicing with an intent and purpose.
Studies all over note that the top people in the industry you idolize or for any industry of that manner such as artists, CEOs, superior athletes, musicians, and entrepreneurs do not just put in a lot of hours (and probably lose a great amount of sleep) but work towards developing a specific set of skills to be the best at their craft.

I am no one special. I am just Troy. As I always say:

I am a nobody, trying to be a somebody, who will settle for being an anybody among everybody.

 

But I tell you this, if you put in the hours and have the focus to consistently develop and grow your skills as you put in those hours, you will already be ahead of most people and will see leaps and bounds in your growth and development. Just one more hour of focus (and again just one less hour of sleep) each day can produce amazing results over the long-run. And you may even get to the point where you can take a leave of absence to even catch up on all the sleep you missed along the way.

But The PR In Me Wants To Give A Lack-of-Seep Disclaimer

Yes, you have to put in the work, but sleep is still vitally important. Now I am going to say this, and I am almost sure half the people reading this will immediately think I’m a hypocrite, but there is a significant misconception that sleep is a waste of time.

The value placed on sleep has plummeted in recent years as members of the business community have continued to brag about how many hours they’ve clocked, versus how many hours of sleep they’ve lost.

Potential health problems have been found when someone isn’t sleeping enough. When your body is lacking sufficient sleep, you are likely to gain weight, have higher blood pressure, and be at a higher risk for diabetes and heart attacks. So listen up. If you are running a company or in an executive, managerial, or some type of leadership role that requires more out of you, pay attention to your sleep cycle. By doing so, you won’t pay the price. Keeping your body in tip-top shape will mean less time out of the office due to poor health and more time for the (nonwork activities) you love.

Us marketers like to use a particular word a lot: optimize. There is a science to losing sleep in a way to bring about productivity, and it requires you to optimize your sleep just like how we perform search engine optimization. (Yes, I know that one might have been an extreme reach, but I’m sticking with it)

Optimize Your Sleep, Lose Sleep Under Certain Conditions, Maximize Your Productivity, Achieve Greatness! Sounds Easy Right?

Yes, it is (with a little effort). Analyze your day for a week from when you wake up to when you finally go to sleep. Note everything you do in your routine, how much time it takes, weigh the benefits of that action to the rest of your day, and rank how successful your day went. Compare what you anticipated to achieve when you woke up that day vs. what you actually achieved that day. Did you do more? Did you do less? How long did it take? How much sleep did you get?

You may have to lose sleep now to eventually have the ability to sleep more later. As leaders grow, we learn we don’t nor should we have to do everything on our own. That’s where having a team comes in. You may have to crank out more hours now to keep the ship afloat but eventually as you sacrifice fewer hours of sleep in “the now”, you’ll reap more hours to focus on more things you want to do like growing and developing instead of dealing with generic tasks that are still necessary but don’t contribute any more to your overall growth and development. As you pave the way for your team to take on the mantle of the day to day, you can now look ahead for that next goal: master’s degree, new position, learning new software, taking up public speaking, learning a new language, more hours in the gym to achieve the body you always wanted (you know to be Instagram worthy).

Make the time you have to sleep more efficiently. Put in the hours to be successful. Be committed. Show discipline. Be focused. Keep your eye on the goal to all of this repetition, long nights, early mornings, and all of the sacrifices. Just take it one hour at a time. Give yourself one more hour to grow and eventually, you’ll look back and wonder how far you have come.

So as I’m finishing up this post at 12:11 AM the next day because I promised myself I would push myself to write more (in hopes of becoming a better writer someday), I have one question for you.

Are you tired?

My answer?

*Que the Missippi Mass Choir*

“Noooooooo, I’m not tired yet.”

(But would you expect nothing less from the “hardest working workaholic you have never heard of?)

Until Next,

T out!