Professional artistry is more than your college degree. It’s an extension of your area of expertise. You know, the core competency that you bring to the table, time after time. That core competency becomes part of your DNA, the Who you are and What you do. Your expertise motivates you to stop thinking, and start doing, to create and produce the deliverables and outcomes you become “known” for.
It takes about 10,000 hours of time spent creating, failing, reinventing, practicing, managing, and refining your expertise so that you wear it like a second skin. That’s when the Who you are and What you do cross over from being your area of core competency into defining your professional artistry.
That’s when the training wheels come off your career, business, product, service, platform, startup. You move forward, into marketplace engagement. That’s when you start working without a net, from a position of confidence, to face accomplishments and yes, some future failures from time to time.
That’s when you know where you came from. You know where you are heading. You understand that getting from A to Z requires going through all the steps in between, B-Y. You understand that business doesn’t happen in a straight line, nor does technology. There’s no cook-book for startups. Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in a vacuum or in the classroom, either.
That’s why it takes 10,000 hours to build your credibility, and situational expertise, in your domain area.
Your 10,000 hours allow you to develop the antennae to read marketplace signals, and be proactive and anticipatory with products, services, platforms and yes, expertise, when it is called for. So that when investors or buyers are ready, so are you. Even when your operational infrastructure is incomplete. Even when your value proposition morphs daily.
Malcolm Gladwell describes this phenomenon in his superb book, Outliers. We witness this daily when we watch artists perform: they’ve put in the 10,000 hours to master their instruments, voices, performances. We often fail to realize that we are putting in those same 10,000 hours, as well.
For students, what (aside from attending school) are you accruing your 10,000 hours towards? Ultimately, you may be majoring in one subject but earning your 10,000 hours subtly, in quite another area. Ultimately, you may always opt to work for certain types of companies, sell other people’s stuff, create engineering solutions for an employer.
The situations in which you apply your expertise create your professional artistry.
What are you focusing your skill sets towards? How are you creating the 10,000 hours of critical mass you need to recognize an opportunity, seize it, and be ready to pursue it – even if you don’t think you are ready?
That’s what logging in those 10,000 hours is all about. It allows you to assume risk, take that leap of faith, see what others see in you, and understand the next step to take – even though it may be towards an unknown endpoint.
What are you logging your 10,000 hours towards?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to startups and small and mid-sized businesses. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, is now available in eReader format!