How I proved Malcolm Gladwell’s 10.000 hour rule and got scouted by Chelsea FC
All those 2 am games… all those times I didn’t get a callback… who would’ve ever guessed that this would happen…
It all started back in 2004. I was around 9 years old and lived in Canberra, Australia. I loved football. Like, a lot. I remember every time Chelsea had an important match, I used to wake up excited in the morning. And I just couldn’t wait for the game to start.
In school, during the day, I constantly caught myself thinking… what formation Chelsea might use in that game, if Didier Drogba is ready to play after his long injury and how exactly they could win the match.
But most of all, I thought about what it must be like walking out of the player’s tunnel, seeing the packed stadium and hearing the chants of 40.000 football fans who would die for their club.
I feel the shivers just writing this.
The only problem with that… I was simply not talented enough. The only way, I thought I could get into that player tunnel was as a referee… or as a ball boy. But definitely not as a professional player.
And the next years proved me right.
In Canberra, at the start of every season, we had these trials, which determined whether you got to play in Division 1 with the great players, Division 2 with the casual players or in Division 3 with the kids who were forced to play, by their parents. And every year, I remember, I was just so motivated to finally make it into Division 1.
After the trial, I usually felt really confident, and I was 100% certain, that I was going to make it that year. On decision day, I spent hours in front of the computer, refreshing the club’s website over and over again. And when they finally posted the list, I went right to the names of the players who made it, in order to see mine as one of them. I went through them, one time, couldn’t see my name… Two times, somehow missed it again… Three times, still couldn’t find it. And after the fourth time, it hit me. My name wasn’t on the list… and I had to play Division 2 for another year.
And all of this didn’t just happen once. It happened for three years in a row. And every time, I just… cried.
From that point on, football was just something that I loved but something I would never be great at…
He or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest but rises the fastest. — Brent Brown
Until that one day,… I was 16 years old, and I just finished reading the “10.000-hour rule” by Malcolm Gladwell…
The thesis of the book is that if you practice anything for 10.000 hours, you are going to be world class in that particular area. So I thought, “if I’m able to practice for 20 hours a week, in max. 10 years I could be one of the greatest players in the world. And in only 5 to 6 years I could be playing professionally.
So, right then and there, I decided that no matter how bad and hopeless it might look right now, I was going to realise the dream of that little boy who also wanted to play in those big stadiums.
And I started training. And when I say training, I don’t mean going to team practice twice a week. I’m talking about training 20 hours, every single week, and over a period of multiple years.
I started going to tons and tons of trials all over Europe and even though nobody ever called me back or wanted me for their team, I didn’t give up. I simply used it as fuel and as a learning opportunity to become better and better. And that’s exactly what happened.
At 18 years old, I got offered a professional contract for a 2nd division team in Hungary. And even though it gave me the validation for all the work I had done over the years, the negotiations fell through.
And that seemed to be the end of it. I moved on. I got a very lucrative job at a bank in Zurich, Switzerland. And I just lived a very normal and regular life.
But something wasn’t right. Something was still missing. And over time that feeling got worse and worse… It was a voice, in my head, that kept telling me, “This is not over yet! One day, you will regret not having gone after your dreams.”
Specifically the dream of being a professional footballer. And I kept trying to shut out that voice. Telling myself, that I’m way too old to make it. And that there are millions of players who are better than me. Until one day, I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. And I realised that that voice was right all along.
That was the day, the 100-day challenge was born. I said, “Nick, yes you’re already in your twenties and yes, there are so many players that are better than you. But,… I’m going to give you 100 days. 100 final days, where you give everything you have, in order to realise that lifetime dream of yours… Maybe you won’t make it. But at least you can say that you gave it your all. And that nagging voice will finally be gone.”
(So, did I earn a pro contract in these 100-days? Click here to find out.)
I want this 100-day challenge to mean something to you. I was not born with special abilities or talent. I was not given the best coaching. I was never the best athlete out there. I am not some sort of special human from Mars.
I truly believe that you can achieve ANYTHING you want in life through hard work, never ever, ever, ever giving up and matching all of that with belief.
It’s also about working smart too. Your hard work needs to be directed in the right places. Training smart and effectively is one example. Making connections in another.
So, did I earn a pro contract in these 100-days? No. But the events of the last 100 days have been a big step in the right direction. Validation from a Chelsea scout and that all the hard work is paying off. Maybe not yet for a professional team, but we’re getting closer and closer.
Now, do I continue with the challenge?…
Honestly, that’s something I don’t know yet.. all I know is.. I don’t want that nagging voice to come back.
Thanks for reading. My mission is to inspire our youth and their communities through Train Effective (website). Here’s the coolest thing: We’ve got jaw-dropping news coming to YouTube on August 7th. If you’re interested, you can subscribe to our channel here.