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  • Writer's pictureEmmanuel Adu-Awuku

The power of X

Updated: Mar 30

Abstract canyon
The power of X can be anything you want it to be

Think of X as an idea, an idea similar to the 10,000 hour rule. If you aren't familiar with the 10,000 hour rule the philosophy simply goes - to master a concept, an activity, or profession, you need to devote the minimum mastery threshold of 10,000 hours. Crossing 10,000 hours certifies your mastery.

But we would have to put 10,000 hours into concept to understand how difficult this is - there are 24 hours in a day; eight hours goes to sleep, eight hours goes to work/school. If you're lucky enough, one of your eight hours goes to your 10,000 hours. Let's assume you devote an extra hour to your craft Monday to Friday - so that's two hours, Monday to Friday. In a year that's ~500 hours, if we exclude holiday and recreation periods. Hitting 10,000 hours would take 20 years.

Assuming you aren't a child prodigy, let's start counting from 18 years - taking you right before your 40s. Now, your 20s and 30s are an important phase of life - additional studies, marriage, career, children - that can push out when you hit your 10,000-hour mark.

But let's stick with the 20-year period. What if you didn't know you needed 20 years, but rather you need X years, or X amount of time. Would that change progression towards mastery? Would you work harder or more relaxed, knowing that you're either a long way from mastery or you've long surpassed it. Now that X has become an abstract mark, what's left to focus on is the quality of your devotion to your craft, the time invested, and the journey to reaching X.


We have to stop thinking of the 10,000 hours as a mechanical action of logging hours, and consider:

  • The quality of your devotion - do you have the right resources to engage with your craft? Are you fully engaged in it? Does it excite you? Does it fit into your life? Answering these questions will allow you to assess if your craft aligns to your purpose, and whether your energy easily flows into your craft.

  • The time invested applying yourself - there's an opportunity cost in choosing to invest your time in one thing over another. Consider this as you work on your craft.

  • The journey to X - once you hit that mastery point, you have to keep it going. If you rest, you rust. It becomes a regular devotion to your craft, but also to the journey, lessons, failures, and successes you encountered leading up to your mastery. This reflection and accumulation of richness in your story just continues, it’s the universe’s way of saying “you’re on the right track”.


Once X is long gone from your rear view, all that will carry you is your devotion, the time you're willing to invest, and the story of your journey. Mastery is beautiful, but the power of X is a more compelling story to tell.

What about talent, you may ask? Of course there's the undeniable effect of talent - how easily a high level of skill or quality comes to you. Talent does allow hitting the 10,000 hour mark to come a lot easier. But consider this, with being on a higher level, your 10,000 hours becomes 15,000 or 30,000 - because you have a talent boost and so more is expected of you. But ultimately hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. When talent does work hard, you start realising all your potential.

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