Something you know how to do: Modifying your car. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a gearhead. Modifying your life isn’t easy, but neither is modifying cars. Sure, it might seem easy today, but we all started somewhere.
Remember your first post?
For those who don’t do the whole forum thing, remember your first automotive question? You came across a person or group who appeared to know a thing or two about cars/trucks and you had that first question. It probably revolved around something you wanted to do with your machine. Can you remember what it was?
My first forum post asked something about aftermarket gauge faces. I had a base model ‘97 Eagle Talon and I knew how to do the basics – oil, filters, plugs. When I found 2GNT, the online community dedicated to 1995-1999 non-turbocharged Mitsubishi Eclipses and Eagle Talons, the first question I asked was about some fancy interior lighting.
A few years later, I had a fully-built, high compression engine and was helping run the community as an admin. I never did install those aftermarket gauge faces, but I rebuilt multiple engines, installed aftermarket turbo systems, organized events, and started a regional 2GNT community in Arizona. I was an admin on this forum, a moderator on that one, and “The Hazer” on others.
I bet your story isn’t a whole lot different. You’re not the automotive rookie you were when you started. (Even if you are the rookie, just getting started, I bet you can still see the difference between your automotive knowledge then and now.) So the question is…
How did you become so knowledgeable about cars?
You found a group of gearheads talking shop and you listened in for a bit. Since they appeared like they might know the answer, you put that first question out there. Maybe they were able to give you the answer you were looking for right away. Maybe they pointed you in the right direction. Either way, you were one step closer to getting what you needed.
Conveniently enough, as we seek out each answer, we often find more questions in the process. It’s one of the best parts about being a gearhead. We’re looking for something specific, when we come across someone randomly mentioning something we’d never even thought about before. Over time, this is how that first automotive question turns into the confidence to yank the engines out of our prized possessions – our cars – and take them apart.
The 10,000 Hour Rule
In his book, Outliers [aff. link], Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful at anything. Now, we’re not suggesting we think this is the end-all, be-all number, but it’s a good benchmark, so let’s put this into a little perspective, shall we?
There are 8,760 hours in a year, but ya gotta sleep, right? So zero-to-expert in just one year isn’t the most realistic.
If we could average 12 hours studying cars every day, we might be an experts in just over two years (12 X 365 = 4,380, then 10,000/4,380 = 2.3).
Another example, if we spent just three hours a day (on average) studying cars, we might be experts in a little over nine years (3 X 365 = 1,095, then 10,000/1,095 = 9.1). Take a minute to do the math yourself and see where you are.
(hours per day learning about cars X 365) X (number of years “playing with cars”) = number of total hours
How close to 10,000 are you?
Does that seem about right? How much do you know about cars? How much experience do you have with cars?
Now let’s make that connection!
(hours per day X 365) / 24 = number of days spent each year on car-related stuff
How many days do you spend researching, talking to people about, or actively working on cars in a given year? For those who didn’t do the math, just three hours a day works out to more than 45 days – a month and a half – of each year spent on just automotive stuff. Even one hour a day works out to more than two weeks of gearhead time per year.
Why do you think we spend so much time on this?
How close are you to being a 10,000 hour automotive expert?