Verne Ho, Director of Design at Shopify in Toronto:
There is certainly an abundance of resources available today to help us learn pretty much anything we want. And so we do, because we also live in an age where it's widely encouraged. But the problem is that, while it’s easier than ever to learn something new, it’s still just as hard to be great.
We’ve all heard about the 10,000-hour rule, but just simply spending time doing something doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. To put things in perspective, 10,000 hours is roughly 4.8 years based on an average 40 hour work week. Certainly we all know people who have worked longer than that. And yet, not many can be called experts. Something’s clearly missing.
The answer lies in being deliberate about the way we practice. Being deliberate means not only putting in the time to do the work (there are no shortcuts here), but to actively focus on improvement every step of the way.
We need to ask why every chance we get. Why did something work well? Or why did it blow up in our faces? The more we know about why things happen, the more empowered we are to affect change.
Turn those whys into truths. We need to define personal principles for ourselves. Become opinionated about what makes great work. We need to be critical about these truths and edit and add to them over the course of our careers. It’s from our personal set of truths that our work finds distinction.
In other words, as Ryan Hamrick once so elegantly put it: "Practicing something for 10,000 hours — or for any amount of time — is only worth a damn if you’re spending the entirety of that practice time completely focused on improvement."
@verneho | verneho.com