Soaking Up Life + Making An Impact
In our relentless pursuit of success, we often find ourselves consumed by work, dedicating countless hours to master our crafts. This is a good thing, until it isn’t.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, introduced the concept of the 10,000 hours rule, which emphasizes the extensive practice required to achieve mastery in any complex endeavor.
While the 10,000 hours rule has faced its share of debate, one thing remains clear: becoming an expert and creating meaningful work requires dedication, deliberate practice, and focused thinking.
Ray Dalio, the hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and author of Principles, identifies two main life-driver types: people who want to impact the world and soak up life.
This duality holds true for many who operate within the spheres of leadership, innovation, and creativity—be it entrepreneurs, designers, artists, strategists, or planners. Recognizing the importance of both impact and life-soaking is crucial for our personal and professional growth and life satisfaction.
The Space Between
Many of us want and need healthy portions of both impact and life-soaking. The other 10,000 hours is about the mastery of becoming ourselves.
The other 10,000 hours is the time we spend before, after, and between the deep work and long hours of applied practice in the work we do. The other hours are spent imagining, wondering, and living in the land of curiosity. It’s the time we spend thinking about our lives, our roles in the world, our impact, and the meaning of our work. It’s the incubative space between the work-related thinking.
It’s impossible to be curious and know something at the same time. Experts and business leaders need to suspend their expertise to allow new ideas to arise. The value of beginner’s mind is discovery and revelation.
Beginner’s mind asks us to live in the moment with as few fixed beliefs as possible; to see things as presented for what they are; to give our attention to what enlivens us in the moment instead of what we think will work. Preconceived ideas and accepted conventions, even our own, limit what’s possible.
“Music happens in the space between the notes.”
Contrary to what many employers expect, our best ideas seldom originate while hunched over our desks or during brainstorming meetings. These ideas often emerge when we allow our minds to wander freely—whether in the shower, on a walk, surrounded by nature, or while gazing at a wild horizon.
It is during these moments of reflection that we connect seemingly unrelated concepts, envision the impossible, and explore the full range of possibilities. In this way, we bridge the gap between the realm of mystery and the world of reality.
The Power of Soaking Up Life
The other 10,000 hours serve as an investment in our expertise, infusing it with deeper meaning and new perspectives. By immersing ourselves in life, we invigorate our work and become more effective in our pursuits. This time encompasses relaxation, recreation, rejuvenation, and reflection — essential elements that nurture our personal and professional growth.
To fully embrace the other 10,000 hours, we can establish rituals and practices that cultivate presence and curiosity. In our organizations, we can design frameworks that foster an environment conducive to imaginative thinking.
As we live toward mastery and meaningful work, it is vital to remember that success is not solely determined by the hours we dedicate to our craft. The other 10,000 hours — spent in reflection, curiosity, and the pursuit of life’s rich experiences — are equally important. By nourishing our spirits, we can serve from a place of abundance.
The energy around your time away from work can be harnessed to elevate your work.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- What daily, weekly, and yearly rituals do you engage in to nurture your curiosity and embark on your transformative journey?
- How does your organization encourage team members to refuel, reflect and rejuvenate? What practices and structures are in place to foster reflection, creativity, and the exploration of uncharted territories?
- What steps do you take to ensure that you continuously feed your human artistry? How do you strike a delicate balance between immersive work and the indispensable moments of rejuvenation?
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”— Eleanor Brown
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