Malcolm Gladwell reckons that mastery can only be achieved after 10,000 hours of practice but Monaghan star Karl O'Connell has continued to rip up that theory throughout his inter-county career having only taken up football aged 17.
As with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule and O'Connell began to make his mark with the Farney men just six years after starting out with the Tyholland minors when he was coaxed away from athletics by his good friend Ronan McNally.
Playing for Monaghan was never his dream with Sonia O'Sullivan one of many athletic idols during his youth, while sprinters like Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon and Francis Obikwelu provided inspiration that he could represent his country one day at the 200m or the long jump.
His brother Ciarán was an international 800m runner so that path had been followed but when a career seemed unrealistic, he “just moved onto the next sport” and, amazingly, he would eventually represent Ireland in the 2017 International Rules series having switched to football.
Training alone just didn’t sit well with him and he has thrived in the environment of a resilient Monaghan outfit that continues to defy expectations, while club coaches Eoin McNally and Dwayne McCarey have provided constant assistance in his unique journey.
"It's a funny aul path," O'Connell chuckles. "I'd say a lot of people were looking at me in those first few training sessions with Tyholland and saying, 'What is this boy doing here? Send him back to the town' or 'Get him out of here'.
"I'd be going to solo the ball and either it would drop behind me from not hitting it or I'd be bouncing it over my head. I had some comical days and it wasn't as straightforward as it looks. There were good days and some really bad days that went on for a while.
"The boys around me were great and once I found the basic understanding of the rules, the skill-set, the game-plans and what football is all about, I found the rest kind of came on easy enough.
"If you have some sort of skill-set that relates to sport and are willing to work hard, you'll get there. Trust me, there was a lot of hard work put into me by Eoin and Dwayne and I've been blessed with the people that have helped me."
After another stellar season at wing-back, O’Connell defied his late arrival to claim an All-Star in 2018 where his lightning pace was seen to great effect on Monaghan's journey to the All-Ireland semi-final but there have been plenty of speed bumps en route as a lack of expertise often caught him out.
"I did, absolutely," he says when asked if he had to play catch-up in terms of skills. "It was just the simple things. Any time I went to the shop or I was outside, I was just bringing the ball with me and I was just bouncing it or practising the solo.
"Wee small things like that do go a long way. No matter how talented you are, when you have a bad day you do question yourself, 'Jaysus what have I got myself into here?' I've had those days at the start, middle and even at this stage of my career.
"What it comes down to is looking at the mistakes and going home and digesting it, seeing what you've done wrong and picking yourself up and adapting to it. I’d like to think that I’ve righted the wrongs of any bad days.
"When you're just starting off, you’re wondering, 'Am I wasting boys' time here? Am I taking someone else’s position here?' The players were absolutely brilliant, though, and the respect and loyalty that they gave me was a big factor.
"It was just about making sure that I put the blood, sweat and tears for those boys out there the next day I went out and being able to sit back after games and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the county and the club represented for another day’."
While humble and keen to deflect praise at every opportunity, there’s no doubt that O'Connell’s success story is largely down to his own drive, as with most elite athletes, but he gets a great kick out of ensuring that his club dines at football’s top table.
"Anything I've achieved is down to Tyholland. All the achievements that I’ve been fortunate enough to get, the joy that I've taken out of it is the joy that my friends and the club and my family have taken out of it," the two-time Ulster SFC winner says.
"What I love hearing when I play football is when your name is being called out on the intercom before games and it mentions your club team as well, that's something that I take great pride in that the club name is being mentioned in the likes of Croke Park, Clones, Killarney, Salthill, everywhere."
Having scored a goal after just 30 seconds of his championship debut in 2012 when parachuted into the Ulster fray by Eamon McEneaney, it's fair to say that the flying half-back has been a quick learner, although even he is struggling with the unique demands of the coronavirus pandemic.
Living in Dublin for the past seven years – where he works in Human Relations for Swissport in Dublin Airport and has had to handle several lay-offs in recent weeks – the former electrician never thought he would see such a lockdown in his lifetime.
The 31-year-old couldn't believe his eyes when recently taking a trip down an empty O'Connell Street and he admits that the pain of blowing a ten-point lead against Dublin in their National League clash two months ago seems of little significance in today's bigger picture.
He's been managing to keep sane by training away alone with Phoenix Park handily located on the doorsteps of his capital base in Ashtown, while his Farney team-mates are "keeping an eye on each other" in this time of need.
Poker and FIFA nights help to maintain some semblance of normality as he adapts to the culture shock of life without inter-county football.
"I never give out about going training but this proves to me that I’m very grateful to be in the position that I've been in for the last eight years to train and play for Monaghan because you really miss training with the lads now," he says.
"You do need the lads around you to have on your shoulder and we're just waiting for this to blow over and to get back to normality with work and everything. Hopefully along the way we’ll get to play some football too."
O'Connell will resume his place as a go-to man in Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney’s squad when they eventually get another chance to strive for provincial and All-Ireland honours, a remarkable feat considering where he started out on that fateful day 14 years ago.