The 10,000 Hour Rule Is Wrong: How to Really Master a Skill

MakeUseOf | 4/22/2019 | Rob Nightingale
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How many hours does it take to master a skill? Well, if you read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Outliers, you’ll remember that “10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness.” This 10-000 Hour Rule is a heavily cited pedagogy in the world of lifelong learning. But I have some good news!

It turns out that this is not what the research shows. Put differently: For any skill you’re trying to master, you can become extremely proficient in much less time than Gladwell suggests. Keep reading to find out how.

Malcolm - Gladwell - New - York - Times

In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell published his New York Times bestseller, Outliers. It’s within this book—based largely on the research of Anders Ericsson—that Gladwell frequently talks about the 10,000-Hour Rule, citing it as “the magic number of greatness.”

The book looks at a number of “outliers”, people who are extraordinarily proficient in certain subjects or skills. It then tries to break down what helped them to become outliers.

Gladwell - Factor - Individuals - Amount - Time

According to Gladwell, one common factor among these carefully selected individuals was the amount of time they practiced within their area of study. It appeared that only by reaching 10,000 hours of practice (that’s about 90 minutes per day for 20 years) could one become an outlier. To use another of Gladwell’s popular terms, 10,000 hours is the “Tipping-Point” of greatness. You can see him explaining this here:

In the years following the book’s publication, this 10,000-Hour Rule has become a platitude for almost anyone wanting to become highly proficient in any skill, at any point in their lives. This is despite increasing evidence showing that the 10,000-Hour Rule is largely inaccurate.

Inaccuracy - News - Skill - Where - Gladwell

This inaccuracy is good news for any of us looking to become adept at a new skill. Where Gladwell’s rule promised us a massive undertaking to achieve proficiency, it could instead be much easier than you’ve been led...
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