Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000 hour rule” in his book Outliers: The Story of Success. This rule proposes the path to achieving world class success in any skill is to amass 10,000 hours of correct practice.
While I enjoyed the read and Gladwell presents strong evidence for his case (Bill Gates, etc.), the theory fails to hold ground under wider scrutiny and application.
I’m an advocate of persistent and consistent practice to achieve different levels of competency. Yet, there are more variables are at play than personal practice.
Without months of expensive research by a team of expert scientists, or any research at all, I can debunk the 10,000 hour rule: My singing.
10,000 Hour Theory Failure: Practice vs. Reality
Practice (in my head):
My wife, family, friends, and neighbors can attest to my 10,000 hours of practice.
A Star is Not Born
I perform daily in the shower (the reverb is phe-NOM-enal) but also less frequently at various social gatherings where adult beverages are served.
I listen to live music as part of my morning readiness routine. Why? Walking out of the shower to a standing ovation after leaving it all on the stage doesn’t suck.
A Promise Broken?
Despite this measure of local notoriety and 10,000+ hours of practice over the course of my 46 years, Mr. Gladwell I have not achieved your book’s promise.
No, I will not demand a refund. I acknowledge that perfect practice makes perfect.
Yet, I also know that 10,000 hours, while a great motivator to drive personal progress and achievement, is too simplistic an answer for the forces driving world-class success.
Sing us a Song. You’re the Piano Man…
No, that’s Billy Joel. I don’t play the piano, a bit of guitar but no ivory twinkling. Yet, I’m no quitter. I will continue to practice, loud and often, much to the dismay of everyone close to me.
My family, friends, and neighbors all have you to thank, Mr. Gladwell. I can’t guarantee they won’t seek a refund from you nor a cease and desist order for me.