10,000 hours is a common measurement for mastering a task. Results are a much better way to really track prowess for two reasons. First, ten thousand hours can be phoned in. Sure some skill has to sink in even when practiced half heartedly but imagine all of the ingrained inefficiencies and bad habits that that over a year of hours can instill! It’s a mistake to assume that mere time makes mastery unless consistency is the goal. Consistency is really only useful for programmable assembly-line logic. Consider how many ‘quality control’ managers exist all over the world and how many ‘experts’ exist among them. They can expertly perform their job but does that make them an expert in the product they inspect? A holistic view of that product would probably yield different results that only a few CEOs and inventors can appreciate – taking an idea to profit to growth. Forbes had an interesting article on how to grow a small business that pointed out the value of building a business from content up. Whether or not that business succeeds is a far better indicator of the founder’s skill than how long she spent working it. Take for example, the real estate niche where there are about a million realtors all over the country claiming to be experts in their market. Many of whom point to their age and time in the industry as indicators of their mastery. Would you consider a seasoned agent with 15 years of experience selling homes to be an expert? Sure. What about the agent who has spent 2 years dominating the Hollywood Hills housing market and claimed a 35% marketshare for himself in the most expensive real estate in the country? Most would call that expertise as well but he may not have spent anywhere close to 10 thousand hours.
Maybe the answer falls somewhere in between where being a local expert matters only so long as results are on par for the industry over time. Master – maybe. Veteran – certainly. Imagine your real estate brokerage has been around for 4 years, fairly new in your competitive market but selling Aliso Viejo realty has never been a cake walk. By that point you should have a good idea of your typical buyers, sellers and what agents need to do to close typical homes. Now figure you’ve got a prospect that steps into the office who wants to buy a home but has never been in the position to buy a new mattress let alone a home. Those oddball situations require problem solving and genuine expertise beyond what the routine can instill. As Mr. Gates points out, the person who makes it to 10,000 hours just happens to be more fanatical about the craft than her peers. An agent that answers the same phone calls and sells the same neighborhoods for years is not necessarily passionate and therefore becomes more of a veteran than a master. To really master a craft like dominating a local market in real estate, passion and drive are the real keys.
Moral of the story, don’t buy a home from any hokey old agent who says they’ve been doing it for a long time. Work with the agent that moves houses like Sprinkles moves cupcakes because they’re certainly more passionate and success-driven. A real estate master agent should be able to file paperwork at light speed without a single papercut and close a home sale without breaking a sweat. Don’t settle for anything less.