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10,000 Hours

5103410042_bab011c830_z It is a common discussion by leaders in employee-owned companies that employee owners do not appreciate what ownership gives them, they do not act like owners, and they will never understand employee ownership. 

In the book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell suggests that to gain perfection in an activity, an individual must spend 10,000 hours practicing it. He gives examples of Bill Gates, Tiger Woods and others, where the data supports this thinking. Mr. Gladwell clearly articulates this is not the only factor that leads to perfection of an activity, but it is an important one.

Taking this thought, and applying it to the scenario stated earlier about employee ownership, it makes sense why leaders get frustrated. How many employees or leaders have spent 10,000 hours practicing being an owner in a company? Here in lies a fundamental issue that many leaders and employee owners overlook. 

Every company has its own set of expected behaviors and attitudes that surround employee ownership. The issue is that when, where and how can 10,000 hours of practice occur in an organization? 

The key is to start today. Practice through training, company meetings, sharing financial information and defining the behaviors that are expected from all employee owners. Do not let excuses get in the way. Start small - 10 hours, then 100, a 1,000.

If 10,000 hours of practice occurs, incredible success will follow!

- Victor Aspengren

Flickr photo by einmaleins.olympia


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For an entertaining and deeper look at the 10,000 hours concept, I recommend the book "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else."

The idea is that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" is what it takes to become world-class at anything and that any of us could become great chess players, musicians, programmers, etc. (Those things requiring specific physical attributes such as height are excepted.)

Think about this, if I put in 5,000 hours can I be one of the best in the nation? If I put in 3000 hours can I be one of the best in the state? It may only take 300 hours to be extraordinary within a company.

In a nutshell, to be way above average really does not take an extreme amount of effort. Just a little commitment.

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