Mastery Unveiled: The Truth About the 10,000-Hour Rule

Separating Fact from Fiction on the Road to Expertise!

Bill James-Wallace


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This week: The 10,000-hour rule (or how long will take me to reach my dream goal?)

🧑‍🏫 A Short History

Malcolm Gladwell popularised the notion of 10,000 hours to achieve something significant in his book, Outliers*. In that book, Gladwell suggests that it takes around 10,000 hours to gain mastery in a skill.

If true, to give you some context, there are 8,760 hours in a 365 day, in total!

Mastery is going to take longer than a year! (Sorry to give you that news up front 😒).

Gladwell, who released Outliers in 2017, takes his research from a paper by Anders Ericsson who published “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.” in 1993.

Ericsson’s research focused on violinists who had reached the 10,000 hours by the time they were twenty. He also noted, “individuals begin in their childhood a regimen of effortful activities (deliberate practice) designed to optimize improvement.” (emphasis mine)

Note the words, “deliberate practice”. This concludes that it is not simply repeating a refrain, in the violinist’s case, over and over, but deliberately practicing to optimise improvement.

It also means working in an environment for 10,000-hours will not necessarily dictate mastery.

I once heard someone say they had 20 years’ experience. To which another quipped, “Or the same year, 20 times?” Brutal, but pertinent.

🤷‍♂️ So What?



Bill James-Wallace

I write about growth, self improvement and success! | Facilitator | Consultant | Tries to play golf. Runs a bit. | Interested in helping make life better.