The 10,000 Hour Rule

Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule.  Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle.  Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great musician?  Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great scientist?  Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours.  Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status.  You can read more here.

My attention, sadly, has always been divided.  I have always had too many irons in the fire.  I have been too interested in too many things.  I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise.  Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.

I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert.  What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus.  Hopefully, it is not too late for you.


Filed under Aging, Biography, Book Reviews, Ignorance, Initiative, Life, Music, Preaching/Teaching, Science

5 responses to “The 10,000 Hour Rule

  1. Marilyn Davis

    Dwight, I’m so glad I found mine early – it’s talking! (I should be really good at it by now.)

  2. Dwight, never say never! What we think we cannot do is probably what God is wanting us to do! So, try it. You might be surprised. You have done a lot of good things so don’t sell yourself short.

  3. I just came back to this and I am not happy with what I wrote. Sorry. None of us should say never and none of us should sell ourselves short. God doesn’t make junk. My goal is to get this school organized and sometimes I feel like it is a losing battle. But then something great happens and I know God is working. I just need to stay out of His way. May God bless you,

  4. dwhitsett

    Doris, what you wrote is fine. I understand your point and agree with it. I just think within anybody, there is the God-given spark of greatness. We need to help those whose lives are before them to determine the talents and abilities their Maker has given them. Then we need to encourage them to stick with it and make the most of those gifts…maybe for 10,000 hours, to the glory of God. Then they will never have to say, as did Brando’s character in ON THE WATERFRONT, “I coulda been a contender…I coulda been somebody.”

  5. Thanks Dwight,
    I don’t know how much you know about what I am doing in Cambodia but I am going to work this week in trying to work this idea into our program. Many of these children are too young to understand but the two guys I am working with need to learn it. Comprehension is a major problem here even in their own language. God bless

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