The Premise of the 10,000 Hour Rule is Wrong


How many hours do you think you need to put in before you are considered an expert? Author, Malcolm Gladwell, popularized the answer by stating that it would take 10,000 hours to become an expert.

Specifically, Gladwell says, "Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness."

But do you need to put in 10,000 hours into your craft, before you can label yourself great?

Harvard professor and "Emotional Intelligence" author Daniel Goleman explains that the 10,000 hour is "only a half true .” More importantly, Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose work on expertise gave birth to the 10,000-hour rule also came out against the pop-psychology claim.

Ericsson, explains “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”

I have learned more from my failures than the amount of time I have contributed to any one endeavor. Let me be specific — failure, analyzing that failure and the application of the lessons learned are what leads to expertise in a subject matter.

Do you want skill? Do you want to add value? Do you want to be seen as an authority? Then, you need to accept that the 10,000 hours is nothing more than an over-simplified marker for success. 

Instead, focus on learning and growing from the process by challenging yourself and turning setbacks into valuable information. Carol Dweck, author of, The Growth Mindset asks, “What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something?”

Those are important questions to add to your DNA because that language is a shift away from the mechanical repetition. It forces you to adjust your execution until you achieve the goal.