I was at the beginning of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” – an excellent read, highly recommended – when I heard about this so-called “The 10,000 Hours rule” (the 10000 hours rule). Scientific researches to successful figures reveal that to prepare someone for THE opportunity that one day will come, he or she should master the necessary skills. And to master a skill, the person should already have gone through a minimum 10,000 hours of practice. That amount is roughly equivalent to a 3-hour of practicing the craft every day for about ten years.
While the number might scare off most people, there are several things that we should remember:
- First, ten years is nothing compared to the rest of your life.
- Second, you can shorten the number of years by adding the number of hours you practice every day.
- Third, you’ll gladly do something that you love for hours daily. So it’s important to focus on a skill that you like or try to enjoy the things that you do.
That being said, ten years of three hours of daily practice is still ten years of three hours of daily practice. This explains why only those who had the determination and able to focus on something will be successful, while those who jumps around from one thing to another will likely fail. Talent and Intelligence are just a small part of success and matter only up to a certain level.
The Irrelevant Number of 10000 Hours Rule
But where do the 10000 hours rule figure come from? Is it even scientifically legitimate? Well, in my opinion, whether or not the number can be proven with science is irrelevant. The important thing is if you want to be able to do something well, you have to be willing to spend your time and effort to practice it. And if possible, get a coach to refine your way to your goal.
Even those who are lucky enough to be born with the so-called talent won’t get anywhere with their talent if they never use it. But if you put your heart into something that you do, talent or not, you’ll get somewhere.
The Tale of the English Class
I teach English to non-English-speaking students, and many of them often ask me how long it will take for them to master the language. I always answer them with this joke. “I know someone who can speak English fluently, and he’s only three years old.”
And my students, mostly teenagers and adults, would ask, “Really?”
“Yes,” I said. “He’s British.”
Their answer would go more or less like this, “That’s cheating. The British speak English all the time.”
“My point exactly,” I concluded with a smile.
Some of them would get it; some others won’t. But the message is clear. You won’t get anywhere if you are only willing to practice a skill twice a week for less than two hours each time. That’s the schedule of their English class.
To master a language you have to use it all the time. You have to go beyond the 10000 hours rule.
Change Your Story
To put the story into your context, change “English” with any skill that you want to acquire (origami paper folding, for example) and adjust the other elements of the story accordingly. For example, ” I know someone who can play the piano like a master, and he’s only ten years old. He plays piano all the time, and not just once a week for a half hour.”
In the 10000 hours rule perspective, this ten-year-old pianist might have practice way beyond the so-called required time.
Bruce Lee once said, “I’m not afraid of a person who practice 1000 kicks one time, but I’m afraid of a person who practice one kick 1000 times.” Or in this context, 10000 times.
That’s why they called him Master!