Have you ever given up something you liked doing just because you thought you didn’t have the talent needed. I have news for you, you most likely gave up for the wrong reason.
Enter the theory of 10,000 hours. It’s founded on research by Anders Ericsson and basically states that you have to practice something for 10,000 to become an expert. Does that make you hopeful or sad? I hope it makes you hopeful because the good news is that basically nothing is out of reach, you decide yourself how far you go within a field. The more you work you put into something the more successful you will be, it is that simple.
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success Malcolm Gladwell argues that it’s the 10,000 hours that made Beatles. In the early days in Liverpool a visiting German sex club owner (so what? He was German) heard them playing and asked them to come to Berlin to play at his club. It didn’t matter that they only had a few songs because the audience didn’t hang around that long anyway and thanks to the long opening hours they got to play the same songs over and over again honing the songs and their interaction on stage. Coming back to Liverpool 8 months later they had raked up thousands of hours in Berlin and combined with the early days in Liverpool they were now close to 10,000 hours and success was just around the corner.
Makes sense? Dan certainly thinks so and is testing the theory of 10,000 hours by trying to become a pro golfer, read about it here. Fascinating story!
Have you ever thought about how long it takes to become good at your job? Normally your working time over a year will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2000-2500 hours in a year and for most people they do not consider themselves good until they have spent about 3-5 years doing a job, suspuciously close to 10,000 hours. However you are not useless at your job before that, you just keep getting better and that is the other thing to remember here, the journey has its own value. The secret to success is in the journey for sure.
Does it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything? The theory is probably incomplete and some things are definitely easier than others and some are far more difficult, this infographics shows some interesting thoughts on this.
I would also add a few ideas to the theory, first of all this is not an all or nothing kind of thing. You don’t have to wait until you have accumulated 10,000 hours before unleashing your skills on the world. 10,000 hours is for true expert status, after 1,000 hour you are probably already very good and after 5,000 hours you will be very, very good. You will also most likely find that your skill level goes up in steps, it will not follow an even curve. Sometimes it will feel like you are not evolving but by putting in the hours you are building up momentum for your next jump. Many practice hours at the “same skill level” means a big jump is coming up.
I also want to point out that we are talking about focused hours here not lazy hours you call practice.
Now it is time for you to decide, do you want to surrender to not having enough talent or will you put in the work and make your own journey?