This is my world, this is my arena
The TV told me something different I didn’t believe it
I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential
And I know that one day I’mma be him
Put the gloves on, sparring with my ego
Everyone’s greatest obstacle, I beat ‘em
Celebrate that achievement
Got some attachments, some baggage I’m actually working on leaving
See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
I will not be a statistic
Just let me be- Mackelmore- 10,000 Hours
10,000 hours is a principle attributed to pop psychology writer Malcolm Gladwell. The principle is that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world class in any field. The above lyrics are from a song 10,000 hours, by Macklemore. People think he’s an overnight sensation. This song reminds us he’s not. He put in a lot of work.
The past couple of weeks, due to a series of events, I’ve had the opportunity to observe someone who is world class at her craft. I went to a two day workshop put on by Suzanne Giesemann. Suzanne rose to the top levels in the military, a commander who became Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role, she traveled the world and met with world leaders. Then, Suzanne became a published author. Then, Suzanne became a world class medium. I believe that is what she is best known for now, but from what I have observed, Suzanne is actually more of a spiritual teacher who happens to be able to talk to dead people.
What I’ve observed about Suzanne is she looks for the lesson in everything. And, by everything, I mean every interaction she has throughout her day with others and her own reactions to those. She has taken lessons from something as mundane as the interaction at a traffic circle, a chance meeting with people in the lobby of a hotel (Tywana and me), and her own cravings for chocolate. Suzanne has mastered the art of mindfulness and it’s what has led to her incredible growth in her field. I’ve observed Suzanne when she’s speaking in front of a group and one-on-one as she carefully chooses each word she puts out into the universe for maximum impact and minimum damage.
When we spot masters, we tend to think they were born with a gift. When I was growing up in church, we used the words gifts and talents interchangeably. And, they are basically synonymous. But, there is a slight difference in connotation. We tend to look at people like LeBron and Tiger Woods and Lindsey Stirling (my latest musical obsession) with wonder and awe at what they were given (gift). What we often overlook is that they weren’t given that level of skill. They were given the potential (talent). It’s like the difference between intelligence and knowledge. Intelligence is given. Knowledge is earned. They put in their time. They honed their skills. They practice, practice, practice. We call them “overnight sensations” and are envious at how lucky they are. Macklemore wasn’t born rapping the way he does. He put in 10,000 hours to get to the level he has risen to. To dismiss the importance of their work is to do them a disservice
Back in the day, I played basketball with a guy named Zen Piotrowski. Zen wasn’t a great basketball player. Zen was actually worse than I was, and I was never very good. But, Zen had this confidence that, if he put in the hours, he could be just as good as Larry Bird. We all laughed at Zen because we knew he’d never be a Larry Bird. However, Zen knew something that the rest of us didn’t realize at the time. Zen, or any of us, could have improved tremendously if we put in the kind of work that Larry Bird had to put in to get to the level he was at. Larry Bird wasn’t born Larry Bird- the Boston Celtic
Finally, I think about the life of Jesus, Master of Masters. Jesus. we think. was born Jesus. But, Jesus put in the work. We don’t hear much about his meditation and his prayer life, but we hear a little. 40 days in the desert fasting. Always sneaking away for prayer time. Praying in the Garden until he sweat blood. Jesus was tempted the way we are. Jesus was born with the potential, but he was not born with the ability. That, he had to earn through hard work, just the way we do.
I’ll never be a Suzanne Giesemann. I don’t have the talent in the arena of mediumship. I do think we all have the talent in the area of mindfulness. We can all make ourselves into a master of our own lives, if we are willing to put in the work, to see the lessons in everything, no matter how small it may seem, to observe our reactions, to root out our fears and give them up, to continue to fine tune ourselves into the best version of who we can possibly be. 10,000 hours- it’s not really all that much time.