Deliberate practice minus the 10,000 hour rule – The 200 words project

(continued from parts 1, 2).
The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of 10,000 hours required to become an expert . There were, however, two issues with the 10,000 hour rule.

First, there is no magic number for the number of hours required to become an expert. It varies by field. 10,000 hours could be a good approximation but nothing more than that. Second and more important, experience does not result in expertise. Spending thousands of hours “practicing” golf by yourself will not make you an expert. Spending all those hours in “deliberate practice” under an expert coach is what you will need. It isn’t about the time you spend – it is about what you do with it.

This, then, leads us back to innate talent. Ericsson conducted years of research with expert violin players in Germany only to find that there was no visible link between innate talent and the performance of the best violinists. Instead, the two predictors were (you guessed it) – hours and intensity of practice.

If this is the case, perhaps there is a case to be made against the idea of innate talent?

People always said I had a natural swing. They thought I wasn’t a hard worker. But when I was young, I’d play and practice all day, then practice more at night by my car’s headlights. My hands bled. Nobody worked harder at golf than I did. – Sam Snead – once called “the best natural player ever” from Anders’ article on HBR

Source and thanks to: Peak by Anders Ericsson

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

7 thoughts on “Deliberate practice minus the 10,000 hour rule – The 200 words project”

  1. Rohan, this is a bit embarrassing to share but there was a time when I also put quantity over quality in terms of practice.

    I spent 4 – 5 years drawing almost everyday, for hours, and was never satisfied with where I got. I never mastered anything anatomy, color, composition, to be fair, I did improve but not by much. When I sat down for practice, I just though to myself how I have to endure how much I suck now, other words, just get it over with.

    It was much later that I realised how deliberation plays a big role in the process.

    Thanks for sharing this post, super inspirational!


    1. Anh, thanks for being brave and sharing. It sucks when you fall into that trap, pushing more time at the problem out of frustration. Maybe someone in that trap will read your comment and realize that she needs a new strategy.

  2. There is no substitute for hard work, done the right way under the right supervision (coaching.) And that’s the “magic” formula.

  3. “Regardless of domain, a large amount of variance in performance is not explained by deliberate practice and is potentially explainable by other factors. Amount of deliberate practice– although unquestionably important as a predictor of individual differences in performance from both a statistical and a practice perspective– is not as important as Ericsson and his colleagues have argued.”

    Source: Practice Alone Does Not Make Perfect, Studies Find

    1. I am sure the answer lies in the middle. I think we are too far on the innate talent hypothesis still. So movement toward the other end would be helpful.

      Thanks to sharing Ryan!

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