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I was surprised to hear a former colleague got married.

OK, pleasantly surprised. But still surprised.

You see, he’s a relaxed, “I’ll see you when I see you” kind of guy.

I quizzed him about the sudden nuptials when our paths crossed.

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “It was just time. Time to get serious.”

The September series, A Lot to Learn, is looking at how we can stay a lifelong learner. Keeping an open mind is only step one; we must actively pursue and begin something new.

In 2014, New York Times columnist David Carr launched his communications class, “Press Play.” Helping fledgling writers at Boston University make sense of the 24/7 media cycle was a tall order, even for a seasoned journalist like David Carr.

Here’s his lighthearted bio from the syllabus:

Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs, even when he is actually amused.

He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly, and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech.

Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.

In spite of his celebrity status, his class was not to be seen as a lark. He advised, “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings. Skip or skim at your peril.”

acres-of-diamonds

There’s a lot of talk going around about putting in “10,000 hours.” The theory is that once you’ve devoted 10,000 hours to something, you’re an expert.

Sounds good!

However, is time the sole quality necessary to be an authority?

Classical musicians find this theory especially hard to accept. You’ll see them raise an eyebrow and warn you that if you practice something incorrectly, let alone for 10,000 hours, the only thing you’ll be an expert at is making mistakes.

Where do you need to dig in to really become the expert? Where will you admit, “OK – I may have put in the time, but I’ve kind of been skipping and skimming.”

Maybe your side hustle needs to shift from “I’ll get to that business when I have the energy” to weekly office hours.

Or this could be the right time to pursue that fringe opportunity, whether it’s a new area at work or working with challenging people in your community. You know the one – where you waffle between the excitement of, “I’d be great at that!” to the panic of, “Think how much I’ll have to skill up!”

Whatever direction you go, see your time investment not as a sacrifice, but as the path to becoming an incredible artisan. Begin to live the words of Earl Nightingale: “You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds.”