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Are You a Master in Diamonds?

As I was always passionate about writing, I cherished a dream in my heart to write a book one day. But English was not my mother tongue, and when my business consultant advised me to write a blog in English, I didn’t think I could do it.

But time passed by and I worked on my English, expanded my vocabulary, polished my skills and enhanced my capabilities in verbal expression. After a while, I was ready to launch my one-of-a-kind blog in English.

Overcoming these challenges made me ponder. First, how long does it take for a person to become proficient in a new skill, and second, how long does it take to become an indisputable master, able to completely dominate, lead and innovate the field?

Picasso’s Wisdom

Picasso was sitting in a market while a woman approached him and said, "Mr. Picasso, I am a huge fan."

She pulled out a piece of paper and said, "Can you do a little drawing for me?"

"Absolutely," answered Picasso and created a beautiful drawing for the woman.

She looked at it and said, "Oh, Mr. Picasso, that’s fantastic! Thank you!" and started walking away.

But Picasso stopped her and said "Hey, my dear lady, that will be a million dollars."

"A million?" said the woman, "It took you 30 seconds to do that."

And Picasso answered, "My dear lady, it took me 30 years to do that in 30 seconds."

Some Research Backs Picasso

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "Outliers – The Story of Success,” examines the factors that contribute to outstanding success. The centerpiece of his book is the 10,000 hour rule claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a targeted task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

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His theory is based on research performed by Dr. Anders Ericsson from the University of Florida, which identifies what he calls "deliberate practice." Dr. Ericsson defines deliberate practice as performing focused, “repeated and prolonged” efforts in a certain field in order to constantly improve performance to the level of perfection.

Gladwell presents many outstanding examples of this phenomenon in practice, such as the Beatles claiming that they performed in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964 and therefore accumulated more than 10,000 hours of playing time (deliberate practice) there. As a result, the Beatles abided by the 10,000 hour rule and were one of the great success stories of all time.

Sound discouraging?

Becoming an indisputable master is phenomenal. But how long does it take to simply acquire a new skill?

Other Research Takes a Shortcut

Josh Kaufman, author of "The Personal MBA" and "The First 20 Hours- How to Learn Anything Fast" claims that it only takes 20 hours (the equivalent of 45 minutes of exercise per day.) Kaufman insists that if a person can overcome the psychological barrier of commitment and invest considerable amounts time to learn a new skill, 20 hours is all that is needed to achieve success.

In the beginning, acquiring a new skill is always frustrating because we tend to give up due to poor performance. But persistence can bring about astounding results.

In any case, and in any field, a person will not acquire a skill or become a master without focus, time investment and massive practice.

Identifying Masters

And so it was, that one day I bumped into a neighborhood friend at the diamond exchange and he enthusiastically told me about his new adventure in learning how to polish diamonds. While he spoke, a mutual acquaintance passed by us, astounded as well to see our friend in the building. The acquaintance asked him about his purpose. "Oh," my friend answered without hesitation, "I’m a diamond manufacturer."

So, how do we identify and measure those most skilled at their respective pursuits? Does it depend upon how they identify themselves?

And if that’s the case, how do we measure a Master Diamontaires?

What qualifies the candidates, and against which factors should we measure them?

I have my own thoughts. But I’m more curious about yours.

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