Michael Gladwell’s book Outliers has made famous the psychological research into what can make you or me an outstanding success and the figure everyone remembers is 10,000 hours.

Einstein to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs to The Beatles, they were all lucky enough to be able to spend 10,000 hours doing the one thing that they became brilliant at – maths, computers, playing music, whatever (which translates to roughly 3 hours a day for 10 years).

Maybe people like it because 3 hours a day feels do-able.

But what people forget is that there were two other major traits that were equally important.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Trait No 1 was that they loved what they did.

They were passionately, emotionally, personally committed to doing that thing. It was never a chore. In fact, just about every successful person says that they would do what they are great at doing whether they were paid for it or not.

How can we make use of this?

Well, first, if you don’t love what you do, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

But I love writing – and yet there are many parts of the job I don’t love at all. Writing boring exposition scenes, making cold calls to potential producers, wrestling with a plot point that could bring the entire story crashing to the ground, developing a character I don’t like, sitting for hours at the computer when I could be outside doing something fun… To name but a few.

So what’s to do?

First, maybe I could just not do some of it. Is that boring exposition really necessary? Probably not. And if I find it boring, then surely an audience will too. That applies to many other scenes that I feel I “ought” to write. I’ve learned that very often they aren’t needed at all.

Second, maybe I could fall in love with the bits I currently hate.  What if I could find something “lovable” about that character I don’t like. Or that scene that has to be in, even though it’s not my favourite. Or even making cold calls.

There are psychological ways of doing this (I teach some of them too).

As for the other trait – I’ve run out of time, but would love to blog that one as a follow-up very soon.