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Hacking the 10,000-Hour Rule

This is part of Wesley’s 12 Steps to Leadership series. Each of these principals should be implemented, each week, to further develop impact and influence.

Description: In this blog, Wesley discusses how you can hack the well-known 10,000-hour rule to expedite your mastery and success. The secret is to find a great mentor and be intentional about your accountability and growth.

Master Skills Faster

10,000 hours…We’ve all heard that this is about the amount of time you have to spend deliberately practicing something to “master” it. That sounds like a lot of work and effort. So how can we give ourselves a super-charged advantage? It’s actually a trick question. The answer is: we need someone else to give us that advantage.

Mentorship is the secret sauce for expedited success. It might take 10,000 hours to master a skill, but finding a great mentor can give you a valuable boost and significantly reduce the time to mastery.

Preparing Yourself for a Mentoring Relationship

Many top leaders attribute their success to a mentor who helped them along the way.

There are a lot of ways to go about finding a good mentor, but the very first step should always be a good look in the mirror. Here are three things you will want to decide on before you start to look for a mentor:

  • What are your weaknesses? Have two or three specific ones written out, and own them. Self-awareness will save you lots of frustration later.
  • How much time and effort are you willing to commit? Hint: it should be “an adequate amount.” You should not enter a mentoring relationship looking for quick fixes.
  • What are you bringing to the table? Mentoring relationships cannot be one-sided. You should look to add value to the other person, even if it is just encouragement or a little follow through. You know, just as a “thanks” for the time investment.

These mentoring relationships can be powerful. At the very least, according to Erin Urban at Forbes, “It's nice to have a helping hand over the hurdles.” I think we would all agree. But how do you get started?

How to Start the Search for a Mentor

Luckily, I have a great checklist to follow whether you’re helping someone find a mentor or looking for one for yourself.

  • Define your desired outcomes. And then, be intentional about seeking a mentor who can help in that area.  
  • Have a plan, be prepared, and make sure you answer the most important question of “what’s in it for them”. The person you are thinking of asking to be your mentor is likely busy, so have your elevator pitch ready, and ask for help in specific areas.
  • Don’t let a “no” stop you. If you’re unsuccessful pinning down your desired coach, have a back-up or get a referral elsewhere. Show some resilience.

Make Time for Your Own Development

Use your mentoring time to absorb. Show up ready to engage and learn as this is your time for growth. As a leader, you will have ample opportunity to pour into others. Be selfish and intentional about your personal and professional development time. This should be a foundational concept for top leaders. Better your craft. Become a quick learner.

The Bottom line - you can expedite the 10,000 hours if you have the right coach. Furthermore, the faster you can learn more skills, the more opportunities you will find heading your way.

If you don’t have a formal mentoring relationship, now is the time.

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