Does It Really Take 10,000 hours?

The 10,000 hour rule is a theory that states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. According to aficionados of this rule the common factor of the amount of time we practice in a particular skill within any area of study which is about 90 minutes per day for 20 years of practice. Anyone can become an expert or mastery in that particular skill. This topic has been highly publicized and criticized in the media.  Many people have passionate views on the matter. However this question deserves a bit more than a simple yes or no answer. It deserves an open mind and a balanced analysis of the potential flaws, downsides and positives of this theory.

Practice is Critical

Although many media outlets view the 10,000 hour rule as a myth. Having more experience does help contribute to expertise. For example, if you practice a particular skill for a two day period most likely you will not master it, but if you practice that same skill over and over again with time you can become skilled. While practice is critical how you spend your practice matters even more no one can achieve greatness by repeating the same thing over and over again. We all need to be confronted by different and new challenges and learn how to solve them. The mind is great at pattern-matching then if you come across a problem similar to one you had in the past chances are it will be easier to solve.

Is 10,000 Hours Necessary

Opponents of this rule tend to disagree with the idea that it really takes 10,000 hours to become an ‘expert’.  Many experts argue that this theory is not a magic number that greatness atomically happens when you make it to 10,000 hours. Although throughout my research I have found that many experts have been quoted to say that “majority of the reliable variance unexplained expertise is more than likely explainable by other factors than the 10,000 theory”. Simply said, practice is needed but practice alone won’t make you an expert. Also other factors that can come into play are the age you started, intelligence or lack of resources. I found this to be interesting because this does bring to light that the theory might have some truth but also has some flagrant flaws.

Final Thoughts

There plenty of other circumstances factor into success but it’s worth taking a closer look at what this could potentially mean for our ultimate success. If you’re working towards a goal or dream that requires you to be an expert or be highly skilled like writing or being a professional in any occupation. It can be difficult to apply 10,000 hour rule. If you find another way that works for you, though, you should see huge improvements based on putting your time and effort into the right kind of practice. Let me know in the comment section what has worked for you and do you think it takes 10,000 to become or an expert in a particular skill? Comment Below & if you liked this post please share!

Copyright ©2016 Jay Colby All Rights Reserved.


About Jay Colby

Some would categorize me as an entrepreneur, life coach, son, friend and all of the above. I’m just another person trying to find my way in this world. Until recently, I was unsure what my path in this life would consist of. Like many others I was between I know what I want to do but not sure if that’s what I’m supposed to do. I am currently finishing my degree in something that has nothing to do with becoming a writer or entrepreneur so automatically it qualifies me to become one right! Follow me as I go through this journey called life to impact and encourage one person at a time.
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75 Responses to Does It Really Take 10,000 hours?

  1. colinandray says:

    I think that the 10,000 hours rule is rather ludicrous unless substantiated with very specific parameters. One cannot intelligently propose that we all learn at the same pace; that our muscles all respond at the same rate; that our mental ability to retain information is identical.
    What really annoys me about such statements is that it has a counter-productive influence on people who are vulnerable to such rubbish. i.e. If it is going to take me 10,000 hours to learn to play the guitar, then I am not going to bother. In fact, 10 hours could be a very productive first step to getting some pleasing sounds from a musical instrument!
    Sometimes I think there are a lot of people “out there” who really should find more productive, and more responsible, things to do than speculate an ideology which is not only heavily flawed, but does not serve society in any positive way. Perhaps they are simply proving that one can spend 10,000 hours on useless endeavors that serve no purpose to mankind… and get published! I wonder how long it would take to re-train them to do something that is actually worthwhile? Presumably 10,000 hours?

    Liked by 9 people

    • Jay Colby says:

      Great insight thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you that 10,000 hours cant be called an absolute value for everyone because different people would have different levels of talent in a particular area. But I don’t think claiming that the idea is “Flawed” is a smart thing to do, because if you average out these different levels of talent and see how long one would take to be great at a particular skill you are bound to come to one figure. I myself have not done the math, but I think we should be open to the fact that this could be an accurate figure


  2. sargondorsai says:

    Everything requires practice to be good at it, even things that you have a natural talent for. Every time you use it is another method of practicing a skill.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. The 10,000 hours might not be necessary,…. but it sure couldn’t hurt!!

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I have often wondered about the 10000 hour rule. To me, age plays a factor because we are much more pliant at a young age to learn things. This doesn’t mean we cannot master things at an older age but I think it is often more difficult and could take longer. Also, I would think that the way one practices is important. Is the correct technique being employed? And I fully agree with you that constant challenge is important in order to push us to greater levels of expertise. Thank you for this thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Enjoy your articles. The way you explained what you understood while doing your research in easy-to-understand language should benefit many. Your quote, “Simply said, practice is needed but practice alone won’t make you an expert” is terrific. I have seen students practice something over and over and, without proper guidance, may never have learned to write their ABCs no matter how many times they tried. Guidance or direction given also plays a part. It’s not always about repetition. Thanks for such a simple sentence that may help people.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I guess that this rule refers to clever stuff like becoming a world-class concert pianist, not not-so-clever stuff like becoming a waiter. Possibly 10 hours would be enough for extreme proficiency in this area.
    Kindness – Robert.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well, I agree that practice is paramount for being an expert but generalising it in the form of 10,000 hours doesn’t seem right.
    How can all the tasks require same amount of time from everyone irrespective of age, mental ability, intelligence, motor skills, availability of resources etc. So, according to this, all the people who have already spent 10,000 hours doing a particular job (I’m sure there would be many) are equally good at it!!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Martin says:

    Nice post. The 10,000 hour rule is about developing mastery and a lot depends on how you define mastery. It won’t take you 10,000 hours to become expert at playing a piece of music, the 10,000 hours enables you to become expert on your instrument so that you can play many pieces of music.
    Most opponents of the 10,000 hour rule are basing their arguments on culturally based assumptions rather than psychological evidence. For example in the UK the cultural position is that intelligence is fixed, everyone has a limit to their potential, however there is very little clear cut evidence that this is the case. The cultural position is based more on the class system that on scientific research.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. birdie says:

    The 10,000 hours idea originates in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’. As I read it he never meant it to be taken literally, he was simply talking about the fact that it takes a long time to get really really good at something, and he used the figure of 10,000 hours as a sort of example of that, for those people who wanted to get good at something but hadn’t really started yet.

    No one really knows how long any individual will take to get really good at anything. Learning isn’t a smooth path, so much as a series of mountains interspersed with plateaus (I speak as a painter) and that is never ending.

    How much time an individual takes to become accomplished also depends on existing related skills – I have done nothing like 10,000 hours of painting, yet I’m told I’m good, and have been offered exhibitions, however I have made thousands and thousands of drawings and these form the basis of my painting skills.

    I think the most interesting thing about the 10,000 hours idea is how it has taken hold and become something it was never intended to be!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Wise observation and an endorsement perhaps of this ancient proverb 22: 29

    Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. charlypriest says:

    I think that a lot of people have inherit talents for different things, but unless you don´t pound on your craft day in and day out the talent is wasted, and there is nothing worst than a wasted talent. I don´t know how many hours it takes, people are different so the hours you put in is different, but I have not met a succesfull person ,actually I have never met one in person, I just read about them, that they don´t spend almost all of their waking hours working on their craft. Obviously depending on what that talent is in comes the smarts, the carisma, e.t.c

    Liked by 3 people

  12. smilecalm says:

    aww shucks!
    here i thought
    it simply took
    a weekend retreat
    for full realization 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I don’t know if it takes EXACTLY 10,000 hours but one this is for sure – the more time you spend on something, the more it grows. If you don’t put the time into what you want now, you’ll never get it, and maybe that’s why they made the “10,000 hour” rule a thing.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Helen Majaga International says:

    Hi Jay, there is this famous quote by Bruce Lee that says, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” I truly agree, practice about same thing over and over again makes it better. The more you practice, the better you become. But I don’t think you need to do it 10,000 times to become better it. Some people are quicker when it comes to learning and mastering skills.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I think this is a big help, practice makes permanent, if you keep doing the things that you’re passionate about, of course, it will turn back what’s best for you. Great insights by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very interesting post, I like your ideas, though to be completely honest, in the second paragraph it feels like what you’re talking about is self-explanatory to you. Which I get, since that is my personal opinion but if it was to be objective, you should have been a bit more clear and argumentative. But that’s just some of my personal thoughts I felt like you might use later on. Anyhow, I like that you brought this up, great idea!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Sorry, if I wasn’t clear, I meant the ‘Is 10,000 Hours Necessary’ paragraph

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Nicole Neal says:

    I love that you kept this open ended, and in short I agree. The theory has flaws and also some validity. I think the big thing is that there are different levels of mastery, and different rates of learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Blog Andrew says:

    Putting an exact hourly figure could be difficult but I understand where you are coming from 🙂 I began my Toolmaking Apprenticeship at age 16 then only became qualified 4 years later (Crap wages in that time as well lol) also I would add I haven’t stopped learning and never will. Great Post.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. D'Dream says:

    For me I believe there should be an all encompassing parameters to determine progressiveness instead of the 10,000 hours which look perfidious to me

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Kim Gorman says:

    I read the book this 10,000 hour rule is taken from. The author talked about Bill Gates and the Beatles, for example, who’d spent countless hours (and years) programming and performing, respectively. I think the key, from what I took from the book, is that practice combined with passion is what makes us experts. No one can truly excel or stand out above the rest if they are not passionate about what they are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. kbeezyisviral says:

    To put it simply: there are no specific rules to success. Everyone comes into their own profession and creates an imprint that either stands the test of time or is here today, gone tomorrow. If success was a quantifiable equation, then everyone would reach the pinnacle with a lot less struggles and pain.

    Energy, effort, eagerness, and enthusiasm through consistent and devoted actions; day-in and day-out is what truly determines your destiny.

    This is where all of the power is stored. And magical numbers aren’t going to change your will and drive to become remarkably successful.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ajibola Sunday says:

    In my own opinion, I will say all it takes to master a skill or get used to something new are motivation (mastery-autonomy-purpose), appropriate will and courage.
    Utilizing the aforementioned can help one master anything regardless of 10,000 hours. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Liz C. says:

    I think practicing something for 10,000 hours would help a lot in mastering it… After all, the more we do something, the better we get at it. Although to master a skill, it could take a lot less than that amount of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Always an informative and good post Jay. It is all about being a master at all the 10,000 things.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: Does It Really Take 10,000 hours? — Jay Colby | Lady Dyanna

  27. Bruce Lee put it eloquently “fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks, but the man who has practiced 1 kick 10000 times”. I think we often confuse becoming an expert and mastery of skills. Love your blog keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pingback: Does It Really Take 10,000 hours? — Jay Colby – cultural atheist

  29. SD Gates says:

    10,000 hours?! Holy cow – that is a long time. That is 416.67 days, or 1.14 years. Doing the same thing over and over. But when I think about the one skill I really have, working with kids, which I have been doing for over 30 years (which is crazy) I would say yes, it does take a long time to get really good at something, and even when you think you have it down, there is still more to learn. But I can look in a child’s eye and tell you something is not quite right, just in the way they move or don’t move, I feel it in my gut. But I agree with the person above, who said one has to have a passion for what they are doing, because no amount of practice will make them a master of whatever it is they are trying to excel in – if their heart isn’t really in it.
    Very thought-provoking post!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. starmanjones says:

    one year and fifty days give or take all day everyday – … hmn bit much to expect me to wait 3.5 years to get a raise or earn a paycheck as a skilled worker paid appropriately for my contribution in respect given ?? it leaves five minths at the raw rate to get something electronic to market before it’s redundant by a generation. many tell me personally of decades in before the retirement dinner and sometimes only in the retirement dinner being told nice things about them on their way out the door… hmn, based against the expected five years it takes a gifted and dedicated person to work the drills to be a master of an instrument and such would infact be nearly that time point of ten k hours. but should i wish to sling sandwiches in a shop which requires a few skills- I might request the level be shown in a kinder light. not so so many hours 😀 but i know well ownership and management do not want skill so much as a friendlier budgetable level of imput 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Diana M says:

    OMG this is crazy that I just discovered A TedX talk on this and I tell someone about it and the person goes “I just watched that too” and now you’re talking about it! (Even though you published it in August, I’m just seeing it for the first time) Wow I think God is telling me something.
    I saw 10,000 hours and went “ain’t nobody got time for that” but also since it talked about expert level learning I was like okay cool.
    Also the talk I watched said in summary – It takes at least 20 hours to learn a new skill; say 45 minutes a day for 1 month. Not expert level learning but good enough to know enough learning, basic knowledge learning which sounds more practical

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Now I wanna say no, but looking back all the lessons and hours and mights and weekends I put into horses plus owning my own pony was 100,000+ hours in labor physically and mentally.


  33. Pingback: Does It Really Take 10,000 hours? — Jay Colby [reblog] – Shereena Badu

  34. nikthewriter says:

    I like that you said doing the same thing over and over wont make you an expert. When I was a child I wouldn’t read much poetry other than my own and the very big names that I learned growing up (Maya, Langston, Nikki). However, since I have taken to reading a widespread of poetry, my own poetry has evolved. I think 10,000 hours definitely helps if its targeted, you allow your progress to be criticized, and you focus on what you’re doing wrong instead of what you’re doing right. We tend to learn more from our mistakes. So, no, 10,000 isn’t a magic number that will help you obtain a certain level of mastery but its a starting point.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Haha my instinct was “10000 hours? That seems a little low”- shows what i know 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Yeka says:

    A great write but I don’t believe in the 10000 hours rules yes it may work certainly not for all…
    Em Jay I was searching for your contact form but couldn’t find your email, I have something I’d like to discuss with you please if you don’t mind here’s my mail- thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  37. kiwitonn says:

    People tend to practice more, but never challenge themselves for the real test. Not to say that you go to the field without preparation, but some people do overrated practice.

    By going to the field, practicing what has been learned, we can find our weaknesses before taking more time to learn and fix our mistakes.

    Fail fast, learn faster.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. chris jensen says:

    Soaring soul, living life,
    death driven
    cutting knife…

    Interesting you have written, dear sir!



  39. I think a figure is just a figure. Any act which becomes a habit will be converted into skill when your heart and mind are aligned with it. Else it’s like a cow in the mill in old times. Which goes in circle.

    Liked by 1 person

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