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There's No Shortcut to Mastery—Even For The Beatles

My mentor, Brain Tracy once told me, “Lee, after you’ve given 500 speeches you should be ready to charge a fee.” I was thinking, “What?” He was right. When I went on the road for SkillPath seminars doing six-hour seminars, five days a week, that’s when I got good. I did that for five years, and left to do bigger and better things, but I couldn’t have skipped that step.

My new band is now adding side two of Abbey Road to our set list. As I break down Ringo’s drum parts, I have a newfound respect for him—and the Beatles. Abbey Road was their final album and they were at the top of their game at the time. Yet, the Beatles began by playing thousands of hours in tiny clubs before getting their big break—and when it came, they were ready.

Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) points out that to be the best (or an expert) in your field takes 10,000 hours of practice and preparation. That’s a daunting number. I’m not disputing it, I’m just saying we should celebrate each stage of our growth, take pride in where we are and what we can do now, and stay hungry to be better and keep trying to better ourselves.

I call it, “Compound Improvement” and unlike thinking about how long it will take to get to 10,000 hours, we simply focus on being a little better each time we do something. For me, learning to build websites was a series of baby steps.

I’m interested in hearing about something you’ve become great at that took a lot longer than you thought, but now that you’ve mastered it, it seems well worth the effort.


  1. Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh are brothers-in-law and both stopped drinking years ago.

  2. Ringo’s real last name is Starkey and his son Zak toured with the Who as their drummer.

  3. Ringo is left handed, but plays a right-handed drum kit.

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