The 10,000 Hour Rule

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Earlier this week I picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers: The Story of Success,and all I have to say is wow. I cannot put it down. For those who aren’t familiar with Gladwell, he also penned the books The Tipping Point and Blink, which also happen to be two amazing reads.

In Outliers, the premise is simple: Why do some people succeed far more than others? Gladwell argues that (this is taken directly from the inside flap) if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them — at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. The story of success is more complex — and a lot more interesting — than it initially appears.

Gladwell dedicates an entire chapter to what he calls the “10,000 Hour Rule.” In that chapter he asks a very simple question: is there such a thing as innate talent? Which is to say, are there some people out there who are just naturally gifted and just float by effortlessly to the top of their chosen field/hobby/sport/what-have-you? The obvious answer is, yes. However, in typical Gladwell fashion, he digs a little deeper.

Gladwell points out that the problem with this view (natural talent) is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger role preparation seems to play. Gladwell notes:

“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

What separates elite violinists from “good” violinists to those who only end up music teachers? Practice. 10,000 hours to be exact. Why is Bill Gates able to take baths in hundred dollar bills? He spent hours upon hours (hello, 10,000) honing is computer programming skills as a high school student.

The point is, if you want to be great in anything, you’re not just going to get by with talent alone. You want to become a great trainer/coach? You have to attend seminars, network, and read more than two books. Sadly, I remember a conversation I had with a trainer when I worked at Sports Club/LA who mentioned to me that he had already learned all he needed to know about fitness. What a walking bag of douche.

I can’t help but think about what Dave Tate always says about achieving success in anything. You have four categories: shit………………suck……………….good……………….great. Whether your goal is be the best trainer you can be, deadlift 500 lbs, or perfect your squat technique, the common denominator between each category is time (10,000 hours). Which begs the question, what have I spent 10,000 hours doing that would label me an expert? Lets see, um…..

1. Playing Stratego with my Lord of the Rings action figures

2. Watching Star Wars alone on a Friday night

3. Looking up images of Padma Lakshmi

4. Not getting laid. Weird, I know!

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