Why I joined the witness protection progam…not what you think

Return with me for a moment to 2004.

Sitting in a warm, carpeted dorm room I reached for the cd with the mascot on the cover.With a child-like smile on my face I ripped open the plastic, popped the disc into my Walmart-brand speaker system, and vibed. The sounds from “College Dropout”, Kanye West’s critically acclaimed debut album, began to fill the room. I was hooked. The LP’s rich soulful soundscape and raw sense of humor were original and captivating. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in head nodding and making that ugly scrunched up face you make when hear you a good beat, I MISSED THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE ALBUM! That realization came years later.

Recently, I dusted off “Dropout” and played it in my car. “Oh I NEED to rewind
and hear THAT again,” I bursted out. The line that most of us missed was on track 6:

“Lock yourself in a room doin’ five beats a day for three summers
  That’s a different world like Kree Summers
  I deserve to do these numbers”

You may be wondering, “what kind of nutjob locks himself in a room to get good at something?”
While that sounds crazy at first, Kanye makes a make a sharp observation about what it takes to succeed, and science backs him up. Research shows us that to gain true expertise in any field you need to commit 10,000 hours of practice. This commitment is more crucial than talent. In ch.2 of his book “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how Bill Gates, The Beatles, and world class violinists all got their 10,000 hours before they achieved mastery. Coca Cola does a good job letting us know that Lebron succeeds because “that boy get his vitamins.” What they should tell us is “that boy get’s his 10,000 hours” So what’s the big “Aha”moment?


Think about it, YOU ARE NOT sneaking away for 10,000 hours to work on something without anybody noticing. After a couple missed birthdays, and reduced hangout sessions, your friends will think you are either a secret agent or that you are in the witness protection program.

For you this could mean locking yourself in a room to study for grad school, launching a business, or writing a book. Maybe your destiny is doing five beats a day for three summers. Whatever it is, just know that if you plan to invest the time to succeed you have to brace for the tricky reality that you will lose some of your friends. Gulp. Can I tell you a little secret? That’s ok! You learn who your true friends are when you are in witness protection program.

Try asking these VERY TOUGH QUESTIONS.

  • How many of your friends will genuinely be happy for you when you find your passion, and devote your time to pursuing your dream?
  • How many can handle the drop off in communication, or being turned down on the weekends?
  • Which friends will grow jealous and resentful, and become consumed with the nagging feeling that your success magnifies their failures?

When you come to realize who’s who, nurture the cheerleaders, discard the dream killers. Dream killers drain your energy. Cheer leaders can usually turn into peer mentors. My next article will discuss how peer mentors can help you make it through the witness protection program. Good Luck!

I am not saying to “abandon, your friends and family when you need to laser focus. There are ways to let friends know about your enrollment into the witness protection program, and time-saving gestures that you can make to show that you care. If you would like to learn these techniques look out for my book “Who’s in your Top Hive?”

P.S.S. Thanks to all my friends and family who have supported me during my enrollment in
witness protection program.