How To Get Out Of The Wannabe / Watcher Trap

Rebecca Chan @GoodPlace

One piece of modern Guru truism that has caught on spectacularly has got to be Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. For the uninitiated, here’s what the rule is in a nutshell:

Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule: To be good at something, you gotta practice the crap out of it for at least 10,000 hours, give or take.

Here’s some math for perspective. If you want to be good at, say, playing the guitar, and if you can spare ten hours a day, five days a week, then according to Mr Gladwell, it’s gonna take you 200 weeks, or three-and-a-half years to master the instrument.

But what if you can only spare one hour every weekday to practice? Well, then you’re looking at a staggering 35 year time span for you to attain “world class” (Gladwell’s phrase) mastery of the instrument.

Of course, like any Guru truism that you hear these days, it’s best that you treat it with a healthy dose of skepticism. I don’t mean to call bullshit on Gladwell, but the 10,000 rule sounds empirical at best, and by nature it’s a hypothesis that can’t be verified in a rigorous or scientific manner by design.

At university, I had always marveled at how some of my college mates who would get totally wankered at the bar and still nailed their tutorials the morning after under the supervision of their sharp-eyed professors. I had always thought that they were blessed with genetically superior grey matter, and since I had very little of that, I had to do the 10,000-hour thing and regularly pull all-nighters just to play catch-up. It was no secret that I had struggled mightily in college.

And as the Mentor would quip, “There’s always shortcuts to everything. Everything. You don’t need to spend so much time and effort if you already know what mistakes NOT to make.” To him, the 10,000 rule is complete and utter hogwash. “Spend 10,000 hours doing something stupid, and you’ll still be stupid in the end.” He didn’t mince his words.

The 1,000,000 Rule

Calling oneself an “entrepreneur” seems to be quite fashionable these days. And for that exact reason I’ve been reluctant to call myself one. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve met people who called themselves entrepreneurs only to find that they were in fact MLM peddlers / insurance agents / drug pushers / pimps / property Gurus / children of politicians or tycoons who didn’t need to work / etc.

I don’t know why but I’ve been getting regular calls and emails from ‘entrepreneurs’ who usually have requests along these lines:-

  • Can I take up your entire Monday morning and get your free advice on something?
  • Can I use your place for free for the next three months?
  • I’m too cheap, so can you please give my startup a free plug at your blog?

Now don’t get me wrong: I love my entrepreneur brethren, and I would do anything to help them within my power because I know that the whole entrepreneurship thing can be a real bitch – especially when you’re going at it alone (like me). However, I’ve grown sick and tired of helping Wannabe entrepreneurs who typically have the lasting power of an easily excitable 16 year old virgin schoolboy.

Hence, I’ve been forced to be selective with the people who reach out to me – not because I want to be aloof, but there’s just so many things to do, both at work and at home. In the comment section of my previous blog post on Wannabes, I specifically called this out –


Tying this back with my earlier point: “practicing” being an entrepreneur for 10,000 hours won’t make you an entrepreneur. But if you’ve sold more than $1,000,000 worth of your stuff… then you’re legit. Welcome to the club.

Especially relevant for those running online businesses: trust me, you don’t know jack until you’ve generated the first 1,000,000 organic clicks to your site. Reading books, attending seminars and downloading Guru courses on “How To Make Money Online In Your Underwear” for 10,000 hours won’t make you an expert.

Staying Out Of The Wannabe / Watcher Trap

Here’s a profound quote from Jim Lovell, astronaut and commander of the famous (and ill-fated Apollo 13) –

“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.”

You want to avoid being a Watcher.

Want to stop being a Wannabe investor? Simple. Put down that book, stop reading property blogs (ahem) and go find a property to buy.

Want to stop being a Wannabe entrepreneur? Easy. Do nothing but sell $1,000,000 worth of your wares. Trust me – you already know enough in your gut to get to your first million. Go do it.

About Khai Yin

When I am not writing for and helping my readers find properties though the DealMatcher service, I spend time doting on my three kids: Wenyi, Qinyi and Eian. My personal stuff, some published essays and contact details can be found at

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