A modern-day tale about confidence, respect and expertise.
On her 40th birthday, Sarah had dinner with her parents, who were both 68.
Her mom, Janet, was a famous surgeon. Her dad, Mark, was a successful airline pilot. As well-regarded professionals – and parents – they never missed an opportunity to question Sarah’s career choice to be an advertising creative director.
“Sarah,” poked her mother, “we always wanted to see you become an expert in something. Have a skill set. So, people will respect and listened to you” Her dad piled on. “Ya know, like your mother and I.”
“Oh, boy,“ thought Sarah. “Here we go.”
Mom continued. “Did you ever read the Malcolm Gladwell book, Outliers? It talks about how you need to practice your craft for 10,000 hours before you are considered an expert. It’s very true.”
“Yes. Very true, indeed,” said Sarah. “So, Dad, how many hours have you practiced your craft?
“Hmm. Let’s see,” he said as he started to do the math. “I have been a pilot for 44 years. And the FAA allows me to fly 1000 hours a year, so… I guess 44,000 hours. Making me an expert 4 times over. See!”
“And how but you, Mom?”
“Well, like your father, the hospital limits my hours in surgery to 1000 a year. So, including my residency,… probably 43,000 hours.”
“Wow, that’s pretty impressive,” said Sarah. “I wonder how many hours I have. Let’s see, not including my graduate degree, I have been doing this 17 years. However, I practice my craft….3000 hours a year, as you well know. So that gives me…51,000 hours. Hmm! Making me an expert 5 times over….and way more than you two… tenderfoots!”
Her parents were stymied. “Yeah…but…c’mon.”
“Sorry,” said Sarah, sarcastically. “I’m a little embarrassed to be seen with such wet-behind-the-ear newbies.”
“Oh, yeah, would you call your grandfather a newbie? He flew jet airplanes his whole life until he died at 80.”
“Yeah, except he wasn’t allowed to fly jets at 80. And planes didn’t even exist when he was 20. So, grandpa, bless his soul, was also an… inexperienced whelp.”
“Your father makes millions for his company. And they entrust him with multi-million dollar planes”.
“Well, I help create hundreds of millions for my clients…..and I’m entrusted with multi-billion dollars brands. That's with a ... B. As in … Beginners!”
“But, let’s be honest, millions of people trust us with their lives.”
“Well, maybe millions of people need to read Malcolm Gladwell.”