The ten-year rule to creating legacy

‘Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.’   Henry Hartman

Creating legacy and preparation

Creating legacy takes time. A lot of time. And it’s not just the time it takes to set up a legacy project, work on it, get through the dip, and make it successful. It’s also the time it takes to set up, run, and fail at, all the other legacy projects before you have any chance of success. The time it takes to make mistakes, gather experience, and start from scratch again and again and again, until what you create has the chance to stand the test of time. In other words, the time to prepare for success to happen.

How long is this preparation time?

What a quick answer? Roughly ten years. How do I know this? Well, it turns out there’s been lots of research on this. This research initially began by following the career of top-level chess players. In doing so, researchers that no one seemed to reach the top ranks of chess players without a decade or so of intensive study, and some required much more time.

What is really interesting though is that subsequent research in a wide range of fields has substantiated the ten-year rule everywhere the researchers have looked. In maths, science, musical composition, swimming, X-ray diagnosis, tennis, literature – no one, not even the most ‘talented’ legacy creators, became great without at least ten years of very hard preparation.

Oh yes, and in some fields of endeavours, the ten-year rule is doubled. For example, research found that most scientists and authors produce their greatest work only after twenty or more years of devoted effort.

Is this too long for you?

Research on top-level legacy creators shows that no matter who they were, it always took them many years to become excellent. Are you up for it?

What do you think about the ten-year rule? Do you think you have the stamina to wait so long for any sign of success?

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at