- Published: April 19 2014 April 19 2014
I hope this finds you all well and healthy and having an appropriate Easter celebration.
This morning I was reminded of Malcolm Gladwell. He is the author that “popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of appropriately guided practice was “the magic number of greatness,” regardless of a person’s natural aptitude. With enough practice, he claimed in his book Outliers, anyone could achieve a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional. It was just a matter of putting in the time”. Yeah – kind of.
Let’s take a look at what 10,000 hours mean.
10,000 hours = 416 – 24 hour days or 1.14 years
10,000 hours = 250 - 40 hour work weeks or 4.8 years
That’s a lot of time at practicing something specific, right??? Well … haven’t you been doing your profession for at least that long? How come you’re not the President / CEO of your company? Some you have been practicing your golf for at least that long – how come you’re not a pro? Some of you have been practicing your tennis for that long – how come you haven’t won an Open? Is being CEO, a golf pro or tennis pro even your goal?
Studies show that while some skills come very naturally to some people with very little practice, other folks really have to work hard to get the same results, which should make sense to all of you. Look at Olympians … they practice 4 years between games and have competitions in all that time as well. The vast majority of these athletes started as kids and continues to compete well into adulthood. Some have practiced well beyond 10,000 hours and still haven’t won a medal.
So what is the take home message for the 10,000 hour theory? To get good at something, I mean really good, of course it takes practice, but the most important thing is … the DESIRE to achieve some goal with that skill. I mean, think about your golf or tennis or swimming, if you REALLY wanted to get better & compete you have to certainly practice, but mostly you’ll have to WANT to put in that time and sacrifice a few other things to get to the competition with other guys and gals putting in the same or more training time than you. So the big question here is … how bad do you want to turn that “fun” thing you do into something much more? That’s really it. The experts agree, because everyone has different skill sets, different responses to training, different training modalities, different metabolism, different schedules …. the 10,000 hour magic number of greatness promoted by Gladwell is just that … a “promoted” number that really has no bearing on how great at something you will be. Will practicing something for that long be beneficial, sure, absolutely, you will get better at anything that you practice for 10,000 hours, you cannot not get better at it, but its also not a true guideline to a certain level of achievement. If you like your golf or tennis or swimming you may already have a natural disposition toward that sport so you will most likely reach a level of proficiency much quicker than someone else. For more insight to the 10,000 hour theory, look at the link below.
See you at the gym!!!