According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, it takes 10000 hours to become an expert at a task. As we’ve seen with kids who start playing hockey at four or in the case of Tiger Woods who started playing golf at two, practice makes perfect. This got me thinking about tasks that we do for hours on end, which we never get good at. For example, how about about sleep? Why can’t we master falling asleep instantly, or feeling completely rejuvenated after only a few hours? What about walking up in the morning? I’ve done it thousands of times, yet I still have trouble getting out of bed.
I think the idea is that it has to be an intentional (conscious) practice. Don’t practice things you’ve already done well in the past, instead do things which you’re bound to fail. I’ve seen this lack of practice with people who are computer illiterate; they don’t care about becoming a power user, they care about doing their work (or getting their porn). Once they know how to do something (e.g. open a web browser), they keep doing it the same way and only that way. They don’t try new things, because it might “break the hard drive”.
It makes sense; we can’t be masters at everything because we only have so much attention to distribute during a day. If you actually payed attention to everything you did, you’d spread yourself too thin and never get anything done. We avoid doing things we’re bad at because, well, doing things badly makes us feel stupid.
Did a quick search for the post I first heard the story from and came up with this inspirational (sort of) blog post: