A.M. Wilhelm | Gedankenexperiment #5: Ten Thousand Hours?
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Gedankenexperiment #5: Ten Thousand Hours?



The term “learning curve” is used to illustrate the amount of undisclosed time it takes to transform from a neophyte to an expert in any human endeavor. Unfortunately, even if your only aspiration is to to go from a neophyte to an amateur, a learning curve is a requisite hurdle. Many experts contend practice drives the speed of the learning curve–wait a minute,if they’re experts does that mean they’ve given 10,000 hours to “make it so?” Objections aside, it’s believed practice both defines and accelerates the curve. Consider it physics of the mind, or of the body if your pursuit is a physical one. Supposedly, ten thousand hours of practice at something, anything, will deposit you into a new territory few ever explore–that of the master.


A simple concept, but ten thousand hours is a lot of time.


If I want to reach this hallowed ground, how can I be certain my practice hours are offered towards something I really want to be a master at? Side note: as I edit this blog I realize being a master at anything is a tremendous human accomplishment, even if certainty of purpose isn’t part of the equation, but, back to the blog–So, if I choose an intense level of commitment to a certain skill doesn’t that mean, by default, I forfeit my ability to become an expert at something else? Something that could be more pleasing than my original ten thousand hour holy grail? It’s quite a conundrum if you think about it too much. I don’t recommend thinking too much but I don’t have a remedy to offer. Except taking a yoga class. Anyway, I’m usually thinking all the time.


Thinking. Wondering. Worrying. Planning. Reviewing. Strategizing. Judging. Deciding.


That’s a lot of hours up for grabs. Tens of thousands of hours over a lifetime. Hold on, an idea is leaping off the computer screen, what about becoming a master of my thought? I can’t say I don’t have enough time, I already said I was thinking all the time, which allots endless hours to practice directing my thought. But, what would I achieve with this quest?


I suppose, for each of us, the answer is different. For me, it means each thought I think contributes in some way either to my happiness, my spiritual growth, or my productiveness. As a master of my thought, no idea would be granted residence in my mind unless it met my goals for my life, i.e. my definition of my ultimate “beingness.”


What kind of person I want to be would continually inform my executive decisions of how I deal with my rebel thoughts.


Cool. I like that idea!


I know what kind of person I want to be even if I’m not always good at being that person. I want to be considerate of those around me. I want to live a life that honors my uniqueness. I want my life to be empowering and enlivening to myself and to those with whom I interact. I want to contribute to humankind in a way that harmonizes with my talents.


With this personal “mission statement,” I implicitly define how to become a master of my thought. To practice over time, over tens of thousands of hours, the discipline of entertaining only those thoughts that assist me in being the “me” I want to be. And, as a result, I will bring my honed mind to everything else I do. But, thinking is just thinking. Doing is something else.


Still, if I master thinking then when I want to learn how to physically “do” something perhaps my training will earn me a discount on those ten thousand practice hours? I’m hoping when negative and distracting thoughts are eliminated each hour of “work” gains potency. Two for the price of one? Am I being naïve?


It’s just a hypothesis. It could take a few years to get the return data. Or, a lifetime. But, even if all I’ve managed to become a master of is my own thoughts, won’t I still have brought myself into the sacred land of the “the ten thousand hourers?” And, won’t I be happier, kinder, and more productive than I am today?


Seems it’s worth a try . . .

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