January 28, 2022

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 Books

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 Books…

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 Books…

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 Books…

The act of repeating…over and over again…an action, habit, performance, strike of the golf club, whisking an egg white to make the perfect souffle, applying mascara, playing Beethoven’s 5th.  Over time, and thousands of repititions…until guess what…you finally feel like you’ve “got it”…or do you???  Do you really “get it”?

In My of 2010,  I sat with tears in my eyes as I watched my daughter Ann walk down the aisle of the Duke Chapel to honor one of the highest achievements of her lifetime…achieving a Duke Degree…or is this really her highest achievement?  Maybe not in her eyes…and I bet it’s not the biggest achievement yet to come for her.

She was in the first group of 10 or so…she sat on the front row (odd, because I could barely see) but I could feel the importance of this day.  I felt as if I was in the middle of someone who was being knighted.

As the ceremony proceeded, Dr. Richard Broadhead, President of Duke University, began to deliver a speech…one that was to challenge the Duke students to forge on…and “walk 10,000 miles…read 10,000 books.”  This speech was delivered (of course) to inspire the Duke students to continue their pursuit of learning and development for a lifetime.   This speech was delivered off the cuff of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers and with suggestion from services like All Speeches, which suggests that there is something magical to doing something 10,000 times before you become masterful with the skill set.  Hmmm….my only question is…for the sake of what???

I thought about my daughter, Ann, sitting on the front row of her baccalaureate ceremony…After I heard Broadhead’s words, I was just off in la-la land wondering “How many steps did she take until she could walk?”  “How many times did she mis-pronounce a word until she got it right?” “How many books did she have to read until she could read any word?”  “How many pages of essays did she have to write to get the certificate that says she is now a Duke alum?”  “How many soccer balls did she kick over 15 years until she scored multiple goals?”  “How many back flips did she do until she nailed it without falling?:  “How many hours did she study to go for the golden ring of getting accepted to Duke University?”  “How many hours did she worry and labor over some of the most rigorous academic courses available to students worldwide through Duke University?”

I suppose enough to make it, but for the sake of what?  What does she now do with this?

This is also my question for today for myself…I wonder of all of the  10,000 steps I have taken…hours of coaching people, hours of being a parent, house of staying awake at night when your teenagers are “out on the town”, hours of reading and studying, hours of gardening and installing Evermore artificial grass, hours of traveling.  I can only trust that they have taken me to places I would have never gone without those thousands of repetitions over time.  I know I have ripped apart projects, websites, lesson plans, recipes, house plans, and on and on until I get them to my level of acceptance.  But for the sake of what?

Maybe our goal IS to walk the 10,000 miles, read the 10,000 books, hit the 10,000 golf balls, rip apart 10,000 projects, whisk 10,000 egg whites, lay away 10,000 hours worrying about our teenagers and what they are doing and do them all over again until we achieve mastery…but is mastery achieved for our own sense of pride and well being?

That answer is not enough for me.  I have come to believe that our end goal in life in these 10,000 steps that everyone in the world takes in thousands of skill sets are what are required make this world a great place to live…full of life and love and inspiration…full of imagination, hope and cure for disease.  Imagine where we would be if NASA had not taken 10,000 tries at sending a man to the moon, or if Edison had not tried 10,000 times before he plucked the magic formula for the light bulb out of his countless hours of research.  Just imagine doing something 10,000 times and suddenly, you land on the cure for AIDS…just imagine.

So…today…think about the 10,000’s in your life…where did they take you, but more importantly, where will they lead you?

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 books.

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 books.

Walk 10,000 Miles…Read 10,000 books.

And…go out and take those 10,000 actions and be an inspiration to others and the world.

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