The 10,000 Hour Rule

The 10,000-hour rule fact or fiction? Let’s start by looking at the numbers. 10,000 hours divided by 24 gives you 416.6 days. When you take into consideration that the average person sleeps for 8 hours, works for a further 8 hours commutes another 2 hours, if soon becomes evident why the figure of 10 years is linked to mastering expert status.

The concept of 10,000-hour rule was brought about by the work of psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, having studied how people become experts in their fields. This concept was then popularised by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers where he states time, as well as natural ability, was required to reach expert status.

When we look at certain sports, all the practice in the world isn't going to help if your body isn't up to the task. Hence why the percentage of those making it to expert level in their chosen sport is only around 1% - 2%. And even with the combination of time and natural ability, there’s still no guarantee of making it to exert level according to Ericsson.

When all is said and done, there are many who are dedicated and gifted who spend a lot of time practicing, conversely, there are just as many who put in the time but never make it. It’s more about how you spend that time, rather than the amount of time spent which has led to the development of a concept known as "deliberate practice."

In deliberate practice, you need to be fully immersed in learning the skill you say you want to master. It’s much more than just loving to play the sport or the instrument and trying hard. It requires a level of dedication, sacrifice and discipline that, quite frankly, not too many of us are familiar with or prepared for. It’s about eliminating distractions and maximising opportunities.

In closing, deliberate practice is still your best bet for mastering a skill to the extent your personal ability allows. So, the next time you're trying to learn a new skill, worry more about the quality of your focus rather than the hours you spend.

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