The 10,000 Hour Rule is Right

Just a quick observation.

There’s a lot of debate these days (just Google it) about whether or not the 10,000 hour rule is “right.” (Note: if you are not familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, read the section on it in the Wikipedia article on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers).

Yes, there are plenty of folks who put in 10,000 hours and do not make it to the very top. They may even crash and burn. Or, they may not quite put in the “right kind” of 10,000 hours work. (You know, from the old piano teacher wisdom – It’s not “practice makes perfect”.  It’s “perfect practice makes perfect”.  Practice, with the intention of getting better; practice with the proper technique…)

And there may be a few people who do succeed “fast” without the 10,000 hours.

So, in other words, 10,000 hours guarantees you nothing.

And yes, there are exceptions, and some folks are just “born” with something akin to natural greatness and leapfrog over everybody else (e.g., this year’s Oscar for Best Actress went to Jennifer Lawrence, age 22 – beating out significantly older, more experienced nominees. She was probably not old enough to have put in those 10,000 hours yet…).

But… but… for the average mortal, the person not born with some kind of natural leap-frogging greatness, the 10,000 hour rule is still pretty much a rule. You’ve got to put in the time over the long haul, develop the skills and the “backlog” of experience, and the overflow of knowledge.

That’s what Mr. Gladwell argues. And he has plenty of examples in his book.

You want a synonym? 10,000 hours is really just another way of describing a serious, disciplined, focused work ethic.

And for most jobs done with excellence, it takes this kind of work ethic – something pretty close to 10,000 hours.

Let me ask it this way. Would you want a doctor performing surgery on someone you love who had only put in just a few hours of work preparation?

Here’s what I would most like: someone who is brilliant, naturally gifted – with a genuinely superior work ethic. But, in the first half of this formula – “brilliant, naturally gifted” – there just may not be enough of these to go around.

And here’s the thing. You can’t make yourself  “brilliant, naturally gifted.”  But you can work hard!

So…  How’s your work ethic?

Randy Mayeux

Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

2 responses

  1. Cindy McIntosh | Reply

    Melissa, love these posts! And, I really enjoy Malcolm Gladwell….found his book, The Tipping Point, most informative and true. I like to think that our Downtown Main Street Improvement Project with the brick medians, period lamp posts, etc. was the tipping point for community improvement here in Moulton!


    Cindy McIntosh

    “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.

    In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cindy!

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