Thursday, April 29, 2010

Magic Number for Success

[Excerpted from the Hero Soul ezine on Personal Growth]

1. News and Notes from the Author

Dear Friends and Subscribers:

I must apologize for the long absence in writing to you. I’ve diligently been working on my next book project: a novel. So far, I’ve written 100 pages (approx. 57000 words) which is about half the story.

To ‘test-drive’ my story, I submitted the first page of my manuscript for a critique at a Humber Writer’s Circle workshop where a top literary agent provided her professional evaluation. I was delighted to get the ‘green light’ from this agent, meaning the opening was compelling enough to read further. Doesn’t mean much, but was encouraging since most of the class did not make the cut.

The next step is to get the first 5,000 words of my story manuscript professionally evaluated by Aurora Award-Winning Science Fiction author, Karl Schroeder, who is the Writer-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library (the world’s busiest library with over 300,000 people visiting its 99 branches every week).

For those of you embarking on a writing career, I highly recommend the Humber School for Writers and Toronto Public Library’s Writer-in-Residence programs. Both excellent programs!

That said, no amount of professional critique or praise means much in this business unless you have a FINISHED, highly polished work that you can show a publisher or agent. (Especially for first-time fiction).

So, I’m focused on finishing my novel. Which means I won’t be able to respond back to most messages, and I’m wrapping up my speaking engagements. (My last one this year will be for the City of Toronto in May of 2010).

I’m also creating an A-list of top literary agents, acquisition editors, and publishers that handle commercial fiction or fantasy fiction. If you have any suggestions, contacts, leads, or referrals, you can contact me at

2. The Magic Number for Success

If you’re like me, I get really skeptical when I hear some guru claiming to have a silver bullet to achieving lasting success, be it a magic pill, number, formula, or mantra. However, there is one success formula or ‘magic number’ if you will, that I can wholeheartedly recommend: 10000.

‘10000?’ you ask. Yes, 10000. 10,000 hours to be precise. That’s the magic number for success.

According to Canadian journalist, author, and pop sociologist, Malcolm Gladwell, who has studied the common denominators shared by successful people around the world, you need to invest 10,000 hours practicing the craft of your dream vocation to reach a level of professional success.

He goes on to cite examples such as Bill Gates, who practiced 10,000 hours of computer programming since high school before becoming a mega mogul. Even Gladwell asserts that he spent 10,000 hours of practice at The American Spectator and Washington Post, putting in about 20 hours work a week for a period of 10 years before becoming a successful author.

I decided to validate this theory in my hometown of Toronto by asking Karl Schroeder (the Aurora Award-Winning Science Fiction author I just mentioned in my ‘News and Notes’ section)about Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” at a short story workshop he was hosting. He admitted, yes, that was about the time it took for him to reach professional success in his field as a sci-fi writer.

If you were to spend just 2 hours a day pursuing your passion, you’d reach a professional level of success in your field in about 14 years. Given the fact that (according to Nielsen Media Research)the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television, investing 2 hours a day in your dream should not be all that difficult to do.

Now, if you were to push yourself and simply work an additional hour a day (that’s 3 hours a day) notice what a difference your minimal effort would make over time. 3 hours a day would get you to your 10,000 hour mark in about 9 years. Subtract 9 years from 14 years and you would save yourself 5 years of wasted time working on stuff that you either detested or were not fully passionate about to begin with!

I think you see where I’m going with this. It takes a decade or more to become an overnight success. Put in your 10,000 hours of practice. Start now, thank me later.

Sharif Khan
Writer, Author of "Psychology of the Hero Soul"
An inspirational book on awakening the hero within
(As mentioned in Reader's Digest, USA Today, Toronto Sun)

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