Per Hours of Practice, I Should Be a Musician or Dancer. Not An Accountant.

It's hilarious to think the limitation placed on acquisition of skills by conventional short-termism.

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.
— Confucius

It seems though that many realize much too late that they doubled down on a skill they chose at 18 because it was what they paid for and are now supposed to be 'qualified' for. There is a belief that the arbitrary four years of studying something requires one to make some kind of profession out of it. But what if the four years were to be broken down into hours?

576 hours is the approximate amount of time spent learning accounting in a typical bachelor program.

672 hours is the approximate amount of time I breakdanced in university.

1,220 hours is the approximate amount of time I played the trumpet.

6,240 hours is the approximate amount of time I've spent in the gym training.

8,942 hours is the approximate amount of time I dedicated to learning and practicing about investing before doing it professionally.

If I were to consider the "sunk cost of time" I should've been a professional dancer, trumpet player or some strength athlete before becoming an accountant. I don't think it's just me. I think this would have been the case for most of my classmates. Heck, change the major to biology, software, psychology, finance or any other and regardless of the major, I'm willing to bet that most have spent more hours on a completely different and unrelated skill to their university major.

Sure, one can argue it's apple to oranges because I supposedly paid to get a professional education in accounting but I know for a fact that I enjoyed every hour doing the other skills above more. From the outset, the five skills I listed are different, some completely unrelated to each other (depending on the optimist vs. cynic). None the less, they're all things I've learned to do and spent lot's of time practicing. It's a part of me and nothing anyone else says or thinks can take that knowledge away from me.

Throughout my life, I've received external judgment on each skill. I've had some be considered a waste of time by others because it's an unproductive hobby vs. one that would contribute to a "realistic" career. It's as if you have to make a choice and compartmentalize the skills you work on. People want you to set it straight for them: "Is this going to be for your 'professional career' or is this a 'hobby'?"

Why can't it be both? Why can't various skills transfer over and actually support the acquisition and growth of other 'seemingly' unrelated skills? Why do you self-impose a barrier?

Have you never considered how playing music could make you a better investor or how being an athlete can make you successful in business? I mean, there are hedge funds that only select ex-athletes because they get he transfer of leadership, competitiveness and discipline. Does one not believe that an ability to play Jazz solos in front of live audiences won't transfer to an ability to present a business case to a board of directors? I know for a fact that I learned my love for the spotlight from being a breakdancer. Dancing in the underground of Vancouver in front of strangers makes any presentation to suits a cakewalk I'll tell you that.

But just because someone graduated with a paper and 4 years in some "major", that has to be the career? Why can't it just be considered one of many skills to be accumulated over a life time? What if life was merely about practicing and acquiring a bunch of skills you wanted? Skills that we were genuinely interested in.

The Ancient Greeks saw the full life as starting off with getting an education, then going to war with the military, then running a business if you survived, then being part of government in the senate, then becoming a philosopher. There was no hyper-specialization. Rather, various skills continued to build upon one another.

By that measure, what if you spend life building upon 3 to 5 different skills you became quite competent in over time?

Scott Adams, the creator Dilbert comics, talks about two ways to achieve success. One is to specialize in one thing and become the best at it (i.e. Lebron James t basketball, not the best lawyer in your firm) or Two, be very good (top 25%) in two or more things. He recommends you don't bother with the hyper-specialized method because it's so hard to actually be the best at one thing but to take the second approach where you effectively "skill stack" to uniquely position yourself with the set of skills you continued to build upon because of genuine interest.

There are common terms like "Renaissance man" for individuals who are multi-faceted or downright interesting. But why is that special? If the human being is truly as unique as we like to publicly remind everyone in the "feel good" stories, then why is it that so many are programmed to become one dimensional? Specialized like ants. It seems the fastest path to mediocrity since most specialize not to be the best but to just not suck.

Sure, I understand the case for people who say self-sufficiency is a sucker's game because it's a 'waste of time' when you can pay someone to do xyz. But what if it's not a waste of time? What if you genuinely like cooking your own meals, doing your grocery, learning to invest, learning to code, learning to ask great questions etc...?

If a 'profession/occupation' was seen as the by-product of skill acquisition and not the sole focus of acquiring a new skill then how would that change your behaviour? How much more interesting would you become? How much more innovative could people get as a society? Why be anything other than interesting?