Outliers, The Story of Success
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Do you agree that it takes 10,000 hours to 'master' something/anything? I would be very interested in other examples of this 10,000 hour benchmark. Thanks
asked by D. McGrath on October 1, 2009
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Yes. Biggest examples are those successful people who begin in childhood to study music, dance, etc. Most children jump around choosing hobbies, I know one of mine did--and he really has no talents today in any of those varied passions. My son spent too few hours on anything and did not build up enough hours to be proficient in any skill or academics so, he struggles.

But there are children (who I know personally) who really focused on something they loved (took lessons, trained relentlessly,etc.) and it paid off by helping them to get into a top college as well as their passion becoming their chosen profession. If you are bit by the bug early on with something you love enough to spend time on, then you have a greater advantage of it blossoming, the more hours you practice it. Especially,music.
sandi beach answered on October 10, 2009

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I tend to agree with Gladwell's assertion that becoming really good at something takes 10,000 hours of practice. However, I believe the number of hours may vary significantly depending on countless variables. For example, my son spent 2-4 hours per day, 6 days a week year around for 7 years in the pool mastering his swimming skills. Thanks to great coaching and his personal motivation, he eventually became recognized as a top swimmer (although the Olympics remain elusive). That said, Gladwell's point that success in a specific area requires years of devotion is certainly true, in my opinion.

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Ron Taylor answered on February 11, 2010

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Years ago I considered joining the IBEW Union as an apprentice to help build my chosen career in electrical work. At the time, an entry level position in the program required around 6,500 hours of documented experience. Add to that several years of full-time employment in the electrical field, presumably working under a Master, and you can begin to see how even the "trades" recognize that it takes 10,000 plus hours to become really good at something.
Ron Taylor answered on February 11, 2010

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Yes, playing an instrument or a sport are 2 prime examples that are physically easy to see the hours involved in practicing. A lot of intellectual pursuits would follow too like any complex math, engineering, or even medicine. Auto mechanics fits too if you're expecting the mechanic to be very good. Coming up with a number of 10,000 hours seems somewhat arbitrary, but it's probably a decent ballpark figure. The problem with that too involves the quality of practice/training involved in those hours. A violin player who has practiced things he/she could not previously play for 5,000 hours will outperform another player who has practiced the same songs over and over again for 10,000. The same can easily be said for athletics. 6,000 hard hours of practice will obviously reap more benefit than 10,000 hours of minimal effort. Simply put, experience doesn't equal skill level, but you can't become skilled without the hours of practice.
Janey Sittig answered on February 16, 2010

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yes ,that's true.
My daughter and I spent hours learning vocabulary words thru home made portfolio,cutted many pictures from cereal boxes,magazines,that time board maker software did not exist.She started to speak when she was 8 years old,She has highest form of Autism/aspergers.
Yes I spent 10.000 hrs and over.She graduated from college and now working and got marreid,she has one dog and 2 cats.I became a special ed teacher after I experienced those hours.
Autistic children learn language with a system that how a native speaker picks up a second language.
teaching grammar with vocabulary works the best.I used ESOL curriculum.
so practice is the key! hours and hours.
Yasminika@aol.com
soniainMiami answered on March 10, 2010

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I believe it also has a lot to do with how many people are involved. The fewer the people involved the less hours it takes to 'master' something. Especially if the result is not exactly tangible. For instance if you can keep the balls in bounds while playing tennis, can get 70 percent of your serves in and have a few specialty shots in your arsenal, what constitutes mastery? In the 30s, 40s and 50s there weren't nearly as many players as there are today. The same people (professionals) were winning tournaments over and over again. Mastery then is different from mastery now.

Additionally, people tend to marvel at the 10,000 hr principle but if we examine our own lives we will see it in action. There just may not be any great reward for being the best at our jobs, or for watching every horror flick ever created or for reading more fiction than will ever be useful. We've all put 10,000 hours into something. Some people just discovered it would be more lucrative to put their 10,000 hours in pursuits where a lot of people cared about it.

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Amazon Customer answered on May 26, 2010

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Gladwell's 10,000 rule seems to be him just throwing out a number that fits into his examples. The biggest reason I find flaw in his argument is 'mastering' something. What does that even mean to master something. Have I 'mastered' typing? If I've spent 10,000 hours typing then maybe I have. But I think that Gladwell may be overlooking the innate talent that gives us that head start. Genes are very important. The 10,000 rule is simply not a rule to mastery because not only is mastery an extremely ambiguous term, but 10,000 is fairly ambiguous too. I suggest reading Mattew Syed's Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success as a component to Outliers. It's not just about the time we put in but how we spend that time. It's not simply about sitting down and working at something for 10,000. You must do it in the correct way.
Samuel C. Mindes answered on May 30, 2010

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Well - I am a surgeon. My training period - 5 years, about 4000 hours per year or a total of 20,000 hours of which about 10,000 hours scutwork and the rest hopefully constructive training. Maybe, the 10,000 hours figure is right.
S. Gupta answered on June 6, 2010

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As others have said prior to me, I can think of many examples in my life where the 10,000 hour rule applies. One basic one is math. In college, I put in hours and hours of work into calculus, yet if you asked me to answer some questions now I probably couldn't do it.

Gladwell also speaks of not just 10,000 hours of practice, but focused practice where you are not simply performing the task over and over, but analyzing what mistakes you are making and correcting them.
Joseph N. answered on July 8, 2010

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Is it really 10,000 hours practice or the importance of forming neural connection? Visualization practice, accurate thinking, and world class mentoring all count. However, I know two musicians, both played by ear as children and neither took lessons until adulthood. They are both outstanding muscians, one of whom is a composer. My niece painted for the first time in high school, and her very first painting drew mountains of favorable reviews and a buyer. It's gifting, faith, mind receptivity AND nurturing that develops our gifts. Persistance is understood. However it is never too late to access and develop one's gifts. Today we know that music creates states; states access the subconscious and other higher mind faculities. Pay attention; create desire; work hard and you can access your call at any age.
Love4books answered on August 3, 2010
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