The quest towards mastery, do you believe in 10,000 hours rule

ten thousand hours rule for mastery
Top of the world is not a far away place
Spread a smile

Achieving mastery in any domain is a journey through time, the time you are willing to put in work for years on end.

As the poet reflected

As the poet Robert Frost echoed in his poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, much before the scientists came up with their hypothesis , that the journey towards accomplishment is protracted.

  • But I have promises to keep 
  • And miles to go before I sleep

10,000 hours rule 

How to become an expert or achieve mastery in any domain? The short answer is, if you are prepared to spend 10,000 hours practising with all your might, you virtually got there.

First insight into the rule 

In 1993, psychologist K Anders Ericsson published “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” in the journal Psychological Review.

As the benchmark for understanding mastery, this article debunked the idea that an expert performer was gifted, a natural or even a prodigy.

Ericsson nearly gave us our first real insights into mastery and birthed the idea of 10,000-hour rule.

Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for real expertise : ten thousand hours 

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell, famed author in his book Outliers, in 2008, brought this idea to the world. The author goes to great length in explaining the concept of 10,000 hours rule. He  brings examples from history including the success stories of The Beatles, Bill Gates and Bill Joy. Gladwell’s Outliers  is one of the main reasons behind the recent fad of the ten thousand hours rule.

When preparation meets innate talent 

Is there such a thing as an innate talent, that would enable you to achieve mastery effortlessly?. Few are born talented or as a prodigy that would indeed warrant them a promising beginning, but not necessarily ensure a long-lasting proficiency. Talent is hardly enough; it is talent plus preparation that steers the way to mastery, to be more specific, practice plays a significant part here.

What the world teach you 

It’s usually in the field of art, music, memory related, athletic and sporting abilities that you talk about innate skills more frequently. Talent counts, no doubt about it. For instance, those who are not musically inclined can’t expect to evolve into an expert musician solely by practising. Even then, no naturals floated effortlessly to the top with less practising.

The very top doesn’t just work harder; they work much much harder. 

The magic number of greatness 

Ten thousand hours to achieve mastery

Ten thousand hours is the time required to achieve the level of world-class expertise in any domain. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery. Expertise in a domain is not a single skill but rather a collection of mini skills.

Put your nose to the grindstone 

10,000 hours is a substantial amount of time and it’s not just about spending time but putting yourself to the edge beyond your comfort zone.

Compute how many hours per day, a month, and years it takes to complete this task. Almost ten years,  with a single-minded goal of spending time and putting extreme hard work.

Unthinkable to reach that multitude all by yourself. One needs unlimited emotional, monetary support and encouragement from parents or mentors for this type of goal-oriented commitment.

Old wine in a new bottle

You might be thinking, what is it different in here, we have grown up listening to the age-old adage, practice makes perfect. Right, what is distinct here is estimating the approximate time measurement for that.

Mastery is a journey

Now you have the magic number of mastery. Whatever may be your aim, next Olympics or grandmaster championship (which apparently takes 20,000 hours) or any skill of your choice, try to commence early, as the journey is pretty long. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, it’s never too late for anything.

Believe it or challenge it

As with any subjective hypothesis, there are people who believe in this rule  and those who challenge this.Some asserts 10,000 hours is not enough for mastery, while others find 10,000 hours as a depressing thought and justify that accelerated times demands accelerated learning. You can find at least five to ten TED talks on this topic, few supporting and rest challenging this rule.

10,000 hours,song

I’m not quite sure whether the latest song 10,000 hours by Dan, Shey and Justin Bieber is inspired by the hours of mastery rule, as they goes on singing,

  • I’d spend ten thousand hours and 
  • ten thousand more 
  • Oh, if that’s what it takes to learn that
  • Sweet heart of yours.

Oh, that’s too much learning !

Sayeeda Pearl

Doctor by profession, Trivandrum medical college alumni, a passionate reader first, writing tidbits here and there on this and that. Sharing bits of life’s fascinating teachings that everyone encounters.

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