Ericsson’s famous study explained that greatness was a function of time. That ten thousand hours was the key to success in any field, whether you were learning an instrument, writing code or mastering chess.
The only problem is, that takes about ten years. And not to diminish the importance of delayed gratification and hard work and focus, because everybody should put in their ten thousand hours, but most people don’t possess the patience to wait an entire decade to gain traction on their work. Patience is at odds with passion. They need early victories to build their confidence, grow their momentum and find their voice. Otherwise they might not stay in the game long enough.
And so, I’d like to propose a more approachable milestone for the early stages of any endeavor:
The first one hundred units.
Roosevelt comes to mind. After he was inducted into office, his radio address outlined his strategy for putting an end to the depression during the first one hundred days of his administration. Since that moment, the first one hundred days has become a critical number for measuring the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that their power and influence is at its greatest.
Of course, politics is only the beginning. This metric has also been adopted by the public, the media and scholars as a gauge of success for a variety of disciplines. Think about it.
Your first one hundred days in a new job. Your first one hundred customers. Your first one hundred hours of code. Your first one hundred subscribers. Your first one hundred blog posts. Your first one hundred pages. Your first one hundred dollars.
The list goes on. Everyone has their own version of it. What matters is that we’re aware of our number. That we stay in the game long enough to hit our first hundred units. Because once we pass that milestone, good things start to happen for our work.
We flush all of the cover songs out of our system and start to compete in clear air. We look back at the ground taken and think to ourselves, aha, so that’s what I’m doing, so that’s where this thing is going.
As my mentor used to remind me, you haven’t written enough to know what kind of writer you are.
The point is, ten thousand hours is a long way away. And we’ll get there eventually. For now, focus on the smaller number. Because we have to do a hundred of anything before we can even judge ourselves.
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What’s your critical number?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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