Power of Intent & 10k-hour Rule

Monday, March 15, 2010

The power of intent. It's a very powerful force and I'm a firm believer in its existence. It can take many forms like writing your goals down, saying a prayer, or casually telling a stranger what you want to do after you graduate. By sharing & expressing it, the intent transforms from floating, abstract want to tangible objective. Now this is where the 10,000 hour rule comes in...

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule... that to become a genius or master at any one thing, one needs to practice it for 10,000 hours. It's true of the Beatles, Bill Gates, etc. But what about 10,000 hours spent on the power of intent? And I don't just mean praying for something and then sitting around waiting for it to happen. I mean someone really believing, writing their to do lists everyday, working hard for any one thing to happen. If you did that for 10k hours would you find yourself surrounded by opportunity?

For me, I've reached my 10,000 hours, and it happened sometime when I was backpacking through SE Asia. I know this not because I sat down and did the math (but I did later and it has been 10k hrs), but because something clicked. I found my hands working in perfect synchronization with what I wanted to put down on the page. Drawing essentially became instinctive. When I look back, I can vouch for the 10k hour rule. I did drive hours in traffic to make it to figure drawing class after work; I did carry a sketchbook with me constantly; I did draw almost everyday. I worked my bum off for each hour, but before all the practice was the intent.

At my Kindergarten graduation, we each had to stand up in front of everyone and announce what we wanted to be when we grew up. How can you expect a 5 year old to know at that point of her life? I remember I said doctor or nurse, but not because that's what I actually wanted, but because I was too embarrassed to say animator. In the first grade, we had a talent show and while everyone wanted to dance or sing, I said "draw" and was laughed at (I got so sad I ran to the bathroom and cried!). So, far before the 10,000 hours of practice, I had more than 10,000 hours of intent simmering & marinating.

A few years ago, Ira Glass spoke at USC and talked about the creative process. He played a clip from his first story ever aired and he was AWFUL. I was soooo appalled!! Like Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers, you expect all the greats to have been born great, but that's not the case at all. Mr. Glass started as an intern working his way up the food chain, which took yeaaaaars before TAL. The whole experience helped him understand that the creative process is actually 50% thinking and 50% doing. Those hours we spend dreaming of what we want to do, planning out the course of action, making changes, putting forth our intent... they're just as important as the doing. So, the way I see it, if you become really good at putting your intent out there, you're on your way to your 10,000 hours of practice if you aren't already. An hour spent dreaming and wishing isn't ever wasted.

2 comments:

the nysogynist said...

you can relive your usc listening to hear his first bad radio show moment here:

http://public.youtranscript.com/zs/864.html

Anonymous said...

Good brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.

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