10,000 Hours in Sales

I was riding the lift today in my teaching blues when a visitor from NY asked how long I had been skiing. During the conversation the concept of 10,000 hours came up. My gut reaction was I was getting close. I started to to do the back of the napkin math and I realized, I was no where close to 10,000 hours.

I skied about 40 days before I moved to Vail in 1989. I figure I skied an average of 5.5 hours a day during that time. Therefore, I logged 220 hours by the time I was 21.

In 1989 I moved to Vail and skied about 125 days that season, averaging roughly 4 hours a day. That’s 500 hours

Since then I’ve averaged about 25 days a year, averaging roughly 5 hours a day. That’s 3,000 hours.

My back of the napkin tally says I’ve got 3720 hours on the snow. That’s no where near 10,000 hours.

In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell talked about Daniel Levitin’s 10,00 hours rule.  It’s the idea that to achieve world-class mastery it takes 10,000 hours or 20 hours of practice a week for 10 years.  That’s an amazingly long time.

The key to this statement is practice.

I spend a good 90% of my time skiing working on my form.  Whether I’m skiing with friends, clients or just by myself,  I’m keenly focused on my turns, foot pressure, body positioning, leg rotation and more. I’m constantly thinking about what I’m doing and am looking for faults, bad habits and more — all in order to improve.

Most of us who have been selling for more than 10 years, technically speaking have hit the 10,000 hours mark. The question however isn’t have we been selling for 10,00 hours, but how much of the 10,000 hours has been spent practicing?

Just because we are doing the job, doesn’t mean we are practicing. It doesn’t mean we’re logging good growth and improvement hours. That requires getting coaching, reading regularly, trying new approaches, extending your knowledge base and more. It means more time focused on the skill of selling, not just selling itself.

I’ve been skiing for 27 years. I’ve logged 3700 hours on the snow. At least 90% of that time has been focused on improvement.

If you want to get better you have to put in the time, but more importantly it has to be the right time.

I’m adding 6 more hours to that 3700 this weekend anyone want to join me?

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