10 000 Goddam Hours

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Is genius born or made? Ask Malcolm Gladwell

Hey Malcom Gladwell! Thanks for the 10 000 hours of mastery.

It is such an amazing vehicle for explaining to people why they have or haven’t or will or will not achieve certain things… for explaining away the idea of the mythical inherent superiority of certain individuals who actually have just put way more time into certain things than you!

But it’s a kicker as well. When you’re not 25 anymore realising that it’ll take 10 000 hours of practice to become a master of something new can be somewhat… unsettling.

There also this thing that people seem to persist in getting wrong… just doing 10 000 hours of the same stupid mistakes is not magically going to turn you in a savant. It’s a point drummed consistently home in Outliers and yet people seem to feel the need to poo poo the idea of the real time needed to master a skill… of course you need to be constantly challenging yourself and improving! That this needs to be isolated and extrapolated on never ceases to amaze me.

10 000 hours
here you go…

OK, it is also accepted that, as an experienced adult, you can master things faster because you are already adept at a skills set that can be applied to many different outcomes and also you are probably more skilled at the process of learning than you were when you were 16, but still… You are still looking down the barrel of 2-3 years of practice.

10 000 hours is basically 5 years of 9-5 work. So if you can apply some of your existing skills, maybe you can halve that. That’s still 2.5 years…. Once you are in your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s how many things are there that you still want to master that you can spare 2.5 years of full-time work on to master? Can you even spare those hours from your normal life? If you can only do half days, it’s still 5 years, anything less and its 10 or 20… that’s a sobering thought!

Where to put those 10 000 hours
Where those 10 000 hours get you

Again I find myself circling back to my pet questions:
What do you really want?
How much do you want it?

When you accept that you’re going to have to commit serious hours to getting what you want and have added them into your weekly schedule, then we can all take it as pretty serious that you want to do this thing. Until you do that, it’s just hot air really!

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