Monthly Archives: May 2019

10,000 Hours

Have you ever watched a newly-released movie and wondered where the lead actor/actress came from? Sometimes it seems as if they became famous out of nowhere. But then, you watch an old movie and spot them in the background as an “extra?”

There’s this weird thing I do, which I’m sure annoys my husband. Any time we watch an old movie, I’m always scanning the “extras” to see if any of them are now famous. Partially because I like seeing the underdogs win, but also because it reaffirms the 10,000 hour rule, which I’ll explain in a bit. (Have you ever seen a ten-year-old Ryan Gossling in the Goosebumps movies? I’m talking the really old, poorly-filmed, have to get it at the library Goosebumps?).

It is said that in order to master something, it requires on average, about (drum roll) … 10,000 hours.

When we first learned about this in a financial services training years back, I remember feeling a little overwhelmed. (Ok, a lot overwhelmed). That’s a massive amount of hours. How could we ever fit in 10,000 hours?

But we wanted to be successful and nothing was holding us back. We didn’t have any other major obligations so we made a pact to hit our 10,000 hour mark as quickly as possible. We realized that if we crammed it in, we could work more than a 40-hour week for a 3-5 year time frame and become masters of the trade. So we did.

Our commitment meant taking naps in the car in the office parking lot (especially when pregnant) and the saying, “Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise,” became our mantra. We ran a lot of appointments in a short period of time. We got uncomfortable and made our goals bigger than our fears. We attended seminars, trainings and read a TON of motivational books, that have carried over to most areas in our lives.

These days, anytime our kids want to be overnight successes at any of their sports, we remind them of the 10,000 hour rule. If they want to try something new, but feel it’s too late to learn the skills to keep up with others who started at younger ages, we reassure them they can cram in those hours if they are willing to in order to collapse time frames. We remind them that if someone is better at their sport than them, they’ve put in more time and have gotten closer to the target. It’s not what they want to hear, but hey, who does? The good thing is that anyone can hit it if they are persistent and willing.

When I look at how horrible my first manuscript was, I have to remind myself of this. What was harder, was facing the realization that I wasn’t going to be some natural-born talent and that this manuscript probably would never see the light of day. So, I’ve been reading and studying and drafting and taking classes like crazy to get better (and have some really great editors who DO have their time in the game) and every so often, like to calculate just how many hours, roughly, I’ve put in. I’m hoping to eventually get it right. Or right enough to interest at least a few people.

So if you feel like you’re stuck in a mundane routine or can do your job in your sleep, maybe it’s time for a new challenge, whatever that might be for you! Working a 40 hour work week, mastery takes about five years. If part-time, about ten. Ten thousand hours is doable and can go by quickly if it’s something you love to do. So hone your craft and make great things happen:)

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Jane, Betsy, Allyson & me

In researching the Nisei (person born in US to Japanese immigrants) experience during World War II, I had the opportunity to travel to Oahu (rough, I know). One of my first visits was to the Japanese Cultural Center in Honolulu. Hearing about the internment camp experiences was humbling. The Japanese Cultural Center is a beautiful facility that allows you to “walk the streets” of Honolulu through different time periods leading up to World War II and post-World War II. While there, there was a hustle and bustle of young kids on field trips, along with visitors and tourists who wanted to know more about the island during World War II and how the Pearl Harbor attack changed the course of history for the entire nation.

I love research (especially when you get to travel for it) and I hope that I can transfer the sentiment of the 1940s and the events surrounding World War II in Becoming American. Reading massive amounts of books from the war period helped, but to hear the stories and emotion from those who had family members who were affected, was the story I was looking for. And even more so, I’ve developed friends who have been so supportive and helpful in my journey as a writer. I can’t thank these wonderful women enough (and Ken too, the Japanese Cultural Center Bookstore Manager), for taking the time to enthusiastically share their knowledge with Freddy and me.

Patiently Impatient

Am I the only one who struggles with patience? I get these big projects and goals in my head and I can’t reach them fast enough or get them done soon enough. I buy my tomato plants already grown, or skip it all together and hit the best Farmer’s Market stand. I want to be a master painter at the wine painting parties I go to (believe me, the wine helps!). Immediate gratification! Now! Now! Now! Seriously, sometimes I feel like a demanding toddler. ( I don’t treat others this way, just so you know! It’s just myself!) Patiently impatient, is what I hear in hitting my goals. Be strict on the goal, but flexible with how you get there.

But sometimes, most times actually, it’s the patience part that allows me to grow and keep moving forward (at least, I’m counting on this). And it takes someone else pushing me beyond the standards I’ve set for myself. I’ve learned to get uncomfortable by verbalizing my goals.

Early in business, Freddy and I told everyone we’d open our own office, even when the numbers and the odds of it happening were stacked against us at the time. It made me feel vulnerable, by putting our butts on the line, but anytime we wanted to quit, when things weren’t going according to our plans, we couldn’t. We’d told too many people. Word was out there. We didn’t want people to doubt us or tell us, “I told you it wouldn’t work.” We got our office open, a year later than the date we proclaimed, but it happened (almost 18 years ago already)!

So, here I am, exposing my goals again and feeling vulnerable. I want to publish books that matter. Books that shed light on things that are important and becoming forgotten (I’m kind of a history nerd these days). And again, I need someone to make me better and push me.

I got my manuscript back and it is not the perfectly-polished piece I remembered when writing it! LOL! But, I’ve exposed myself to a few great editors who are challenging me and have made some really important suggestions (yep, almost every page!) that I believe will make this book better! PATIENCE CALLIE!!!!

So, here I am, making many adjustments and doing more research regarding World War II battles, how to write better battle scenes etc. etc. I’ve built so much more respect for authors! It’s one thing to read, but man, it’s a whole other thing to write effectively, which is where editing comes in! I’ve decided editors are the anesthetists of publishing! So important and no matter what they make income-wise, underpaid!

So, who are you exposing your goals to? Is there a mentor or coach or someone in your life who is pushing you? It could be spiritually, physically, career-wise. I’ve read you are an average of the top 10 people you hang with. If you want to become more spiritual, hang around with more people who can influence this. If you want to be more successful in business, hang around with ethical and successful business entrepreneurs and make yourself vulnerable, uncomfortable. I’ve found that anytime I get uncomfortable, I grow.

So, put yourself out there! It might take longer to hit your goals than you want, but it’s part of the plan. It’s part of the inspiration for others. It’s inspiring to me to hear of people who don’t hit their goals easily and if they do, they’re too small! I love cheering for the underdog! I love hearing stories of people who beat the odds through hard work and perseverance. Be that person to someone. Be the light. Be the one to show them you can overcome by not giving up:) Even if it’s just one person who becomes inspired, one person can do HUGE things for the greater good:) That makes it worth it.

3 Things

How do you start your morning? How about ending your day? It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and pessimism of the world. I’ve always considered myself a “realist” vs. a “possibility” thinker.

However, Freddy read something years back that changed my perspective and majorly increased my optimism in life by implementing a habit every morning and every night. It’s simple and it not only helps to stay focused on the positive, but also on your goals, while increasing gratitude no matter where you are in life or how your day went.

Ask yourself every morning (or tell yourself, actually): what are three positives I’m going to make happen today? Or, what are three things I’m really looking forward to today? It could be small things or big things! Some days, it might go something like this: I’m going to spend some quality time with my mom/grandma etc; I’m going to finish the chapter I’ve been struggling with; I’m going to fit in (fill in the blank).

We ask our kids this as we drop them off at school and when they can’t think of anything, many times it ends up being : who are you going to befriend today? Who are you going to compliment today? What are you looking forward to (usually the same: Sterling is recess or gym and the girls are art or music).

It’s amazing where this will lead your day! You are in control and you are making great things happen, while making the world a little bit better place. Who knows the ripple effect it’ll have.

Before sleep, the last thing you lay on your heart are three positives that happened that day. Believe me, a lot of times it won’t be the same things you listed in the morning. And some days are tough. Really tough. It might end up being : I’m grateful I’m breathing or I’m blessed my kids are healthy. I live in a safe neighborhood. It could be something you accomplished: I’m grateful I started running again! I’m satisfied I finished the book! Etc. Etc.

I’ve found the more I practice this habit (I admit, there’s days I forget), it puts me in control of my day and my goals. It reminds me of all the things I’m grateful for. I remember that whatever I’m going through for a problem, there’s someone in the world who would LOVE to have this problem/be in my position and I try to remember the time when I wanted just where I am right now.

What fills your cup?

What makes you tick? Moves you into action? Where do you find inspiration?

I heard a sermon once that when your passion meets with a need, it becomes a calling that can move mountains. But where do you start if you feel you’ve lost your passion or don’t know what you’re passionate about?

Can I talk to you like one of my friends?

I was an extremely driven young twenty-something, with energy and opportunities on my side. I went full-throttle into everything I did, without concern for what the outcomes might be. I had no one but myself to be responsible for, nothing to lose.

But something changed in my late twenties to mid thirties. Call it lack of sleep (could be, as our first daughter was up every hour and a half for years) or putting a few more badges of rejection or failure on the belt. Either way, I lost myself in motherhood and putting their needs first and building most of my social life and hobbies (what hobbies?) around them and the “mommy circle.” Don’t get me wrong- I LOVED these days filled with park play-dates, hanging with other moms while drinking coffee and comparing milestones and heartaches. Is my kid on track? How do you handle (fill in the blank)? I juggled motherhood with a full career in financial services (again, loved).


But when the kids all went to school, I found myself looking around, wondering, now what? Where do you start looking for your soul when it becomes lost?

I’m not going to lie. I prayed. A lot. And read. A lot. One of the things I read was whatever you do that makes you lose track of time, forget to eat etc, is what you were meant to do. Your passion.

It took months, but I woke up one night after a great dream and began to write it down (which turned into a not-so-great manuscript, but that’s not the point). I found it! I loved to write. How had I forgotten that? And how had all my high school teachers recommended going to school for creative writing and I didn’t see it? I went for Psychology and Marketing because it was more popular. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t dealt with enough failure or rejection yet (which believe me, early years in financial services will build that quickly).

We’re told God gifts us talents and they are different for every person and that by using them, it fills our soul and furthers His kingdom, making all things possible. It could be anything…public speaking, developing relationships, helping others, doing hair, etc.

It might take a prayer or three hundred, but you will find yourself. You will find that thing that makes you tick. The thing you loved as a child before society told you it wasn’t cool or didn’t pay enough. I was reminded of that the other day when a woman told me that writing books doesn’t pay much these days (a woman I’d met for the first time). I looked at her and smiled, and said, “I didn’t write this for the money. I wrote it to make a difference.” When you can say that with confidence, sky’s the limit and your heart will be full.