10,000 hours is believed by many to be the magic number of hours needed to become an expert or the best in a particular field.
Malcolm Gladwell discusses the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers, Gladwell states “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing that makes you good”. In other words becoming an expert is not about innate talent but rather about how much dedication you have to continue practicing a skill or a profession.
Gladwell is interviewed about his book and the 10,000 hour rule in this video clip.
Gladwell’s book cites K A Ericsson a Pschologist at Florida and his colleagues who produced a study called ‘The Acquisition of Expert Performance and Deliberate Practice’. Ericsson and his colleagues studied musicians at Berlin’s Elite Academy of Music. They grouped the violinist into three groups – those unlikely to play professionally, good and world class. They all started to play violin at about the same age but those who became the best increased the amount of practice as they got older.
The diagram below summarises some of their findings.
Source: K. A. Ericsson, Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406
Not everyone will want or need to become an expert in their field however the old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ does seem to be true.