10, 000 hours.
In his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, Malcolm Gladwell estimated that to master any field you needed 10,000 hours of practice.
We need not question how he arrived at the figure, because, if we apply common sense, it makes sense.
As human beings, there are three arenas where we can strive to be masters: in body, mind or spirit (though they are not water-tight compartments by any means.)
At the dojo I went to in college, the master said I must practise each judo throw 1,000 times, so that the body no longer asked the brain how to do it. The body must do Ippon Sio Nage (Stomach Throw) as naturally as it breathed.
By a strange quirk of fate, the enfant terrible of Indian modern art, Francis Newton Souza, happened to spend his last Christmas evening at my home in Colaba, Mumbai.
“I can’t draw badly even if I wanted to, Kiran...drawing is now part of my
Ken Wilber, probably the greatest living spiritual interpreter, explains the difference between scientism and science to dogmatic scientists (my interpretation), “What do you find unscientific about spiritual practice? To become a physicist you have to study objects for 25 years...to become a seer you have to study your self for the same number of years.
In one case you use electron microscopes, in another you use your own awareness.”
Stands to reason, no?
10, 000 hours.
The four-letter-word everybody wants to transcend and/or leap over/bypass and/or wish away in life and in business.
The faster our lives get, the more desperate our search for miracles (described as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency).
The great Indian middle-class wants to follow Babas, perform kapalbhaati or praanaayaam in front of the TV and get rid of its diabetes/cancer/asthma... overnight (Miracle!).
Ditto the business world: we want our businesses to become brands, hold IPOs and make megabucks...overnight (Miracle!).
(This impatience includes human beings attempting to become brands, but that ridiculous and laughable notion we will deal with some other time.)
“Oh come on, Khalap, you old fogey...maan, you are so out of sync,” I can hear the young readers say, “maan, look at the brands you dig (Absolut, Harley Davidson) versus the brands we dig (Apple, Zara, Diesel).
Ours are not brands that took too many years...both life and business are changing...time is no longer an ingredient of success.”
Absolut. Born 1879. First advertised 1981.
Harley Davidson. Born 1903.
Apple. Born 1976. Overtook Microsoft in market cap in 2010. That is, if you wish to define success in market cap (35 years after birth.)
Zara. Born 1975. In Spain. In 2011, all around the world, including Delhi, India (36 years after birth).
Diesel. Born 1978. In Italy, In 2011, in 80 countries, 200 stores, including India.(33 years after birth.)
I guess that is more than twice the number of average years of its target audience.
A journalist called Matt Haig wrote two books called Brand Success and Brand Failures in 2004; its new Indian editions are out in 2011.
Since he is not a brand specialist, we will forgive him his confused understanding of brands per se: he regularly mistakes Cause and Effect.
For instance, Trust in brands is an effect, not a cause.
Of what, exactly? Of following your heart in the same way for many years: that is what a brand is. Unchanged by time, it pursues its vision over decades.
Over time, consumers and their sons and daughters and their grand children and great grand children become loyal to the brand because it is loyal to itself.
It does not cheat, it keeps innovating to satisfy its loyal customers, even if it
stumbles, it admits it has and carries on.
That’s how great brands transcend time.
That’s how human beings transcend themselves.
Not by looking for miracles.