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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 159 - The Point of Expertise

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers talks about how people become experts. His contention is that most experts have spent at least 10,000 hours actively working in their field of expertise.

This sounds like a lot of time but think of it this way. A full time job is 40 hours per week or 2000 hours per year. Working at the same full-time job for five years will give you expertise in that field. At least this is Gladwell’s contention and he backs it up with some powerful stories of people as diverse as Bill Gates and Thomas Edison to make his point.

Most people don’t think in terms of hours creating expertise. For them it is a mindset issue. They may do well at a job but don’t consider themselves an expert. On the other hand, some people with very little time spent in an area are considered expertise.

With this in mind, I decided to take an expertise test. Now bear in mind that I’ve been around a while so I’ve had lots of opportunities to develop expertise.

I’ll just take a bunch of random categories and we’ll see how I do.

1. Being a student: I went to school for six hours a day, 40 weeks a year for 16 years. That adds up to 19,200 hours spent in a classroom. Everybody in the United States comes close to this standard. Bear in mind it includes college.

2. Newspaper editor: I was an editor full time for 13 years working a very long schedule. I would say minimum 45 hours a week. That adds up to 29,500 hours. Now this included a lot of duties, including photography, production, writing stories, designing pages, covering night meetings, and supervising employees, all of which are essential for a good editor to know.

3. Genealogist: I’ve been looking up family history for decades. In the 1970’s if I had to guess, I would say on average 10 hours a week for 8 years. That’s 4160 hours when I was working hard in the field while holding a full-time job. For the remaining 32 years, I would guess 3 hours a week for 32 years, or 4992 hours. That totals 9150 hours, which is probably low.

4. Writing: Here’s where it gets tricky. I’ve had times when I wrote a lot and times when I didn’t do so much. If I averaged it out, it might be about 8 hours a week for 40 years or about 16,600 hours. That’s a lot.

5. Accounting: I was a Chief Financial Officer for 20 years, most of that full time. I would say 40 hours a week for 20 years, which is 40,000 hours. No wonder I’m damned good at accounting even though I never took a class in it.

I could add in a lot of items where I’ve done maybe 5,000 hours and quite a few at 2000 to 3000 hours. Some are mundane like driving. Others are more important like speaking, running computers, working social media, and so forth.

Try taking this expertise test yourself and see just where you excel, even if you don’t think you excel at anything. Then honor your expertise and share it with others. You’ll do yourself and the world a lot of good.

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