Sunday, February 1, 2009

Get on with it

We are the most informed generation in the history of the world. Between weekly newspapers, 24 hour cable news channels, and the internet, we have access to vast amounts of information. We take for granted that we will be comprehensively informed about events in remote parts of the world within minutes — sometimes while the event is still happening.

This electric information is fundamentally (after oral and written) the third method of communication in history. It is fast and it is becoming pervasive. Once upon a time you could get a letter from home or read the day's newspaper and feel like you were caught up on events. That's no longer sufficient. Every minute that you're not checking your media outlet(s) of choice you fall further and further behind, craving that hit of dopamine that a fresh shot of information provides. It's only a click away.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle, except that it's the part that doesn't matter a hoot to the real world. If there's a revolution coming, it won't be the information junkies of the world who are responsible for it — though they'll be among the first to know — it will be a revolution started by those who act.

Getting out there and starting to do it, no matter what your goal is, is going to lead to success much faster than reading about it. Doing it badly is the first step on the path to doing it well. Malcolm Gladwell observes in his book Outliers: The Story of Success
 that people tend to become really accomplished at complex tasks after about 10 000 hours of doing it. That's about four hours a day, five days a week, for 10 years. This should not be seen as discouragement, but as a promise that if you put in the time and effort, you can be exceptional at anything you want. Awareness won't get you there, action will.

Next Week: How to decide what to do.

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