I had heard of this rule before, something about it taking 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. I haven’t read Outliers, but I conducted a Google search to see what I could learn.
What I discovered is that for everyone who writes about the 10,000-Hour Rule, there seems to be a slightly different interpretation of just what that rule says. So 10,000 hours is either:
** the amount of dedicated practice time it takes to truly master a skill;
** the key to success in any field;
** the common denominator for people who achieve incredible success in their respective endeavors;
** what talent is really about; or
** the amount of time is takes to become a “phenom” at something.
There’s quite a stretch between becoming a success at something and becoming a phenomenon, or as per Erik Deckers interpretation, becoming “so freakishly awesome, to be such a standout among your peers, that sometimes your first name is enough to tell people who you are…”
To accomplish 10,000 hours of practice at something would mean putting in 40 hour practice weeks over the course of almost five years. Since it is unlikely that one would be able to truly focus on a specific skill for an eight hour stretch at a time, the dedicated practice time per week might have to be at least halved, meaning that we are now looking at ten years to attain mastery. Not too bad if it’s truly your life’s passion.
I’m sure that 10,000 hours is a rather arbitrary number. Still, that’s a big chunk of time. As for me, I’m not actually striving to become phenomenal at anything. But there are skills that I might like to improve upon. So maybe it would be worth my while to look at a scaled-down version of the Rule.
I’d like to propose the 365-Hour Rule. Suppose someone committed to pursuing a specific interest for an average of one hour a day for a year (which non-coincidentally comes out to 365 hours per year). I’m guessing that even at that level of commitment, they would see a gain in expertise in their chosen area. They wouldn’t become brain surgeons or concert pianists in that time, but they would be 365 hours ahead of the game from where they were a year ago.
And if it’s really just a matter of putting in the time and they really wanted to become incredible at what they did, if they just kept up the 365 hour/year commitment, within 27.4 years they could reach that goal, too. Or maybe not.
It can be challenging to keep a year-long commitment. Just look at the success rate of New Year’s resolutions. But maybe if it’s something I’m already doing – like writing, say – and if I just track my time and truly focus on concentrated practice, I may surprise myself at my progress. It’s worth a shot. I feel a Pulitzer Prize coming on… maybe in about three decades.
Are you with me?