You’ve likely heard of the 10,000 hours concept popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. The research relating to this discovery was actually done by Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University. His research revealed another key factor: the quality of a student’s teacher. This finding highlights the need to secure the right person to support, coach, or teach you. The point is that 10,000 hours (or any amount of time) practicing incorrectly isn’t going to help you improve. Quality and not only quantity is critical for success.
This concept also relates to the fallacy of asking for X years of experience to fill a job. For example, ten years of little or no learning isn’t valuable, nor is one year of learning simply repeated nine more times of any value.
In my previous role as a recruiter, I tried to determine if the candidate had 10 years of growth, learning and development or 1 year repeated 10 times. The first sharpens the saw and the second dulls the blade.
10 years of “disciplined practice,” supported by an accomplished teacher, coach, or mentor who provides feedback and insights toward constant improvement is essential for you to grow. This is why interactive learning is superior to listening to a lecture. You don’t learn to ski by reading a book or watching a podcast. You need to get boots, skis, and poles and go to a mountain with snow. And then chances are good you’ll fall down many times before you remain standing – hopefully.
Here’s another important component: affinity. This refers to your natural ability, inclination, behavioral disposition, and talent to accomplish something. This also relates to “flow” – the place where you lose track of time and are absorbed in the activity.
I am a very passionate and effective coach and teacher. I can recall being drawn to these activities since secondary school. I have had some excellent teachers and role models and have honed my skills through ongoing professional development and support from qualified coaches. What about you? What do you do well, maybe even “really well”? Where do you lose your sense of time and have others complimenting you on your ability, output, and quality of work?
Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Mozart didn’t need 10,000 hours to become brilliant. They had the raw goods and talent. Time and support simply helped them flourish. You may not require 10,000 hours either if you have the affinity, discipline, and the right coach.
I recommend you focus on your strengths and natural affinities supported with disciplined practice. Strive to achieve quality and quantity. Ten thousand hours is the equivalent of five years of 40-hour weeks. 10,000 hours on the wrong thing is simply a waste of time, and life!
If you are looking for an experienced teacher or coach to help you develop in 2024, check out my courses in GTLA.