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The 10,000 Hour Rule

A few weeks back, I read the book “Outliers : The Story of Success” BY Malcolm Gladwell – One of the most interesting and thought provoking books I’ve read in the recent past. One of the key points in the book is that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to achieve excellence in anything – Be it programming, music or art.

I guess we’ve all heard that “Practice Makes a Man Perfect”, but no one really put a number to the practice efforts..

Somehow the thought continued to linger on.. I pondered about my own life and about the lives of people I know who achieved excellence in their sphere of work / art or any skill… Did it really take 10,000 hours to achieve excellence..

Well… I guess YES and NO.. Simply because I think it all depends on how broadly your define the “skill” and how specifically you define “excellence” – Both of which are not so easy to do! Of course there are several other factors specific to an individual, the environment, etc – which influence the final outcome of your efforts…

But everything constant, does it really take 10,000 hours of dedicated practice?

Let me take a few examples:
I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to make the perfect cup of tea (And again perfection is fairly subjective); But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take 10,000 hours to master cooking

Again, I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to figure out how to put your baby to sleep; But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take much more than 10,000 hours to achieve some level of mastery on parenting

Again, I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to write a perfect blog post; But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take as much as 10,000 hours to publish a good book – You need to reach a different level of self-awareness, comprehension of writing process, literary literacy and “understanding your audience”.

Now let’s do a quick Math
10,000 hours translate really to
2 hours per day for 13.69 years
4 hours per day for 6.84 years
6 hours per day for 4.56 years
8 hours per day for 3.42 years
10 hours per day for 2.7 years

Hmm.. I think these number explains a lot of things.. Like
Why does it take most writers at least 3 years to get their first book published? (From idea to shelf)
Why does it take any parent at least 3 years to feel comfortable about parenting?
Why does it take anyone at least 5 years to get their PhD?
Why does it take most bloggers a few years to find their niche in the blog-o-sphere?
Why does it take several years for organizations to figure the right Social Media strategy?
Why does it take very long for most of us to get it “right” on Twitter? (Twitter started in July 2006)
Why does it take any singer / musician several years to achieve complete control on their voice?
Why does it take any gymnast several years to even be considered for the Olympics?
Why does it take any actor several years to find their “niche” in acting?
Why does it take any chef several years to get a Michelin Star rating?
Why does it take any pilot several years to fly the Air Force One?
Why does it take any photographer several years to click that one magical perfect picture?
Why does it take politicians several years to be elected as critical representative of the state?
Why does it take anyone several years to be the CEO of a large organization?
Why does it take anyone several years to be the Dean on an educational institute?
Why does it take couples several years to find the “perfect equilibrium”?
Why does it take several years for people who embark on their spiritual journey?
Why does it take anyone several years to get perfect in oral communication?
Why does it take several years for you to find your soul-mate? (Because you are working on being perfect and so is your soul-mate I guess!)

SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU NEED TO HIT THAT 10,000 HOUR MARK TO ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE in your SKILL..
And yes! One you get there – Then the sky is the limit to what you can achieve..

NOTE: Above are based on my observations, and there could be deviations / exceptions as with everything else in life

As I did my research on this, I came across

1) An interesting and divergent point of view on this titled as ““Paradox of Skill – Why greater skills lead to more luck

2) An excellent inforgrahic which captures essence of the 10,000 Hour Rule brilliantly. Sharing the same below.

10000 Hour Rules
[Src: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/14/malcolm-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-visualized-practice-makes-perfect/]

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