Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outlier: The Story of Success,” discusses what he calls the 10 000-hour rule. He explains that there are certain people who seem to achieve extraordinary things because they put in long hours of practice. He says that the key factor is that those who succeed have had the chance to practice many times over a period of years.
Gladwell states that we often associate greatness with great talent, but that talent alone does not guarantee success. He cites the example of Mozart, who was born with incredible musical ability, but did not win fame until he was around 11 years old. By age 14, he composed his first symphony.
He concludes that the real secret to success is putting in a lot of hard work.
The 10 000-hour rule – PMC
In his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell coined the term “10,000 hour rule.” This refers to the amount of practice it takes to become good at something. In other words, you must put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery.
But what about those people who are already experts? How do they stack up against those who haven’t practiced enough? And how much does practice matter anyway?
To find out, we asked Dr. Richard Wiseman, author of “59 Seconds,” to test the hypothesis that there is a difference between expert and novice performance. His findings suggest that even though experts spend less time practicing, they perform better because they’ve been exposed to many different types of tasks over time.
This study suggests that expertise doesn’t come from experience. Instead, it comes from a combination of experience and deliberate practice.
The Great Practice Myth:Debunking the 10,000 Hour Rule
Anders Ericsson is one of the world’s leading researchers in expertise acquisition. He says the 10,000 hour myth is “a provocative generalization.” In fact, he argues that people are capable of acquiring expertise at much lower levels of practice.
Ericsson has studied experts across many fields, including chess players, violinists, Olympic athletes, professional musicians, and even doctors. His research suggests that while some people do reach high levels of proficiency early in life, most acquire expertise later in life. And it turns out there are several reasons why we might think otherwise.
First, Ericsson explains, the 10,000 hour figure is based on the idea that you must spend about ten thousand hours practicing something over the course of your lifetime in order to develop expertise. But that number doesn’t account for how long it takes to gain skills once you’ve already acquired them. For example, say you become fluent in French in college. You’ll probably continue to speak French throughout your adult life, but you won’t necessarily improve your fluency—you could lose it.
Second, Ericsson points out that the 10,000 hour claim ignores the importance of deliberate practice. People often assume that the key to becoming good at anything is to put in lots of practice. But Ericsson says that’s wrong. Instead, it’s important to focus on developing specific techniques and strategies that work well for you. If you consistently apply those methods, you’ll eventually find yourself improving.
Finally, Ericsson notes that the 10,000-hour rule fails to recognize individual differences among learners. Some people just naturally pick things up faster than others. So if you’re someone who learns quickly, you don’t need to wait around for ten thousand hours to become an expert.
Busting the Myth of the 10,000 Hour Rule
The 10,000 hour rule is often used to explain why some people are successful while others aren’t. But it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. In fact, there are plenty of people who don’t meet the criteria. For example, many musicians never play enough hours to reach 10,000 hours. And even those who do reach that milestone aren’t always experts.
Gladwell cites a famous study conducted by psychologist Anders Ericsson that looked into how long it took professional violinists to reach world class status. He discovered that the average player spent about 3,500 hours practicing per year over a period of five years. However, he also found that the best players averaged 10,000 hours per year. This led him to conclude that the best performers must have practiced longer.
But what does that mean? Does it really take 10,000 hours to become good at something? Not exactly.
Top Resources on Learning & Practice
Neuroscience is one of the most exciting fields of study today. With advances in technology, we are able to explore the human mind like never before. In fact, it is now known that our brains learn differently depending upon what type of information we provide to them.
In this article, I am sharing some of my favorite resources on learning and practicing emotional intelligence. You might find something here that sparks your interest, and helps you make progress toward your goals.
#1 – Dr. Daniel Goleman
Dr. Daniel Goleman is a world renowned psychologist and author. He is the author of many books including Emotional Intelligence, Focus, Primal Leadership, Social Intelligence, and Working with Emotional Intelligence. His work focuses on the importance of emotional intelligence for leaders and organizations.
His TED Talk on Emotional Intelligence is very popular.
#2 – Mind Tools
MindTools is a web resource that offers a wide array of tools and articles focused on improving mental health. They offer a variety of topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and stress management. Their goal is to improve people’s lives by helping them overcome depression, anxiety, anger, addictions, and more.
10,000 Hours of What? All Practice Isn’t Equal
The 10,000 Hour Rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, posits that people who are good at what they do got there because they practiced for 10,000 hours. But it turns out that isn’t true. In fact, some of the most successful people in history didn’t spend nearly that much time practicing.
In the book, Gladwell cites examples like Mozart and Picasso, who both spent less than 2,000 hours practicing their craft. While those musicians certainly became world-renowned virtuosos, they weren’t necessarily the best players in their respective fields.
Gladwell argues that what matters is how long someone spends practicing, rather than the amount of time. He points to studies showing that people who work hard for short periods of time tend to outperform people who work harder for longer durations.
But while it might seem obvious that practicing for a shorter period of time would lead to greater improvement, Gladwell fails to make this distinction. For example, he mentions a study finding that violinists who played for six months each week performed worse than violinists who practiced for three years. However, the authors of the study found that violinists who practiced for one hour per day did just as well as violinists who practiced for five hours per day.
So the question becomes: How does one know whether practicing for X number of hours is actually helping you improve? Gladwell doesn’t say.
Practice Makes Perfect… or 25% Perfect
A recent meta-analysis by Brooke Macnamara and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University looked at how much deliberate practice different people put into mastering specific skills. They found that it predicts about one third of the variance in performance across these activities. For example, chess players who practiced for five hours per week achieved a level of skill roughly equivalent to being rated around 2100 FIDE (the World Chess Federation rating system). By contrast, those who spent just 2.5 hours practicing per week had a skill level comparable to being rated around 2400.
The researchers found that deliberate practice accounts for about 20-25% of individual differences in expertise. So while we might think that anyone can become an elite athlete or musician simply by dedicating enough time to training, it turns out that there are many other factors at work. These include genetics, age, and even personality traits like conscientiousness.
Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule: 3 Research-Backed Principles of Practice
In his book Peak Performance, Anders Ericsson argues that there are three key principles to achieving peak performance: deliberate practice, feedback, and consistency. Deliberate practice refers to the act of consciously doing something over and over again, while feedback refers to the process of evaluating how well one is performing, and consistency refers to maintaining a high degree of focus and concentration throughout the entire period of practice.
While Gladwell makes no mention of these three principles, they do appear in some form in every chapter of The Tipping Point. For example, in Chapter 5, “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” Gladwell discusses the idea of “deliberate practice”—that is, the notion that if you want to master any skill, you need to devote more and more time to it. In fact, he cites research suggesting that the optimal amount of time required to reach mastery varies from activity to activity. For example, tennis players should spend between 1,200 and 4,800 hours on the court before reaching their peak performance, whereas musicians should dedicate between 6,000 and 12,000 hours to achieve mastery.
Gladwell also talks about the importance of feedback in Chapter 7, “Feedback Loops.” He notes that when you learn anything new, your brain creates a mental model of what you’re supposed to be able to do. This model then serves as a reference point against which future attempts will be compared. If you don’t get feedback after making an attempt, however, your brain won’t have a chance to update its model. As a result, you’ll make mistakes and not improve.
Finally, Gladwell mentions the concept of consistency in Chapter 9, “Consistency Is Key.” He points out that experts tend to perform better than novices because they know exactly what they’re supposed to do. Novices, on the other hand, often lack this kind of knowledge. To compensate, they try to force themselves to perform consistently, but this only leads them to make mistakes. Instead, experts rely on their internalized knowledge to guide their actions.