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Everything you need to know about the 10k rule

Jun. 28, 2017
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The 10,000 hour rule is a theory stating that it takes at least 10,000 hours to master a skill. This theory was created by author Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell used this theory to describe the success of extraordinary people, such as the Beatles. The Beatles had played many shows, and held many practice sessions, before they had their big break of international success. The rule illustrates that people do not need natural talent to do well, but can learn to do a skill well by training.  Despite part of the 10,000 hour rule making complete sense, there are bits of it that show this rule is not so simple. 

After becoming popular, the 10,000 hour rule— we can call it the 10K rule— was disputed by researchers claiming this rule is not exactly true. Many people misinterpreted the rule’s meaning. When asked about the misunderstanding, Gladwell emphasized that the rule is about nurturing your talents to bring yourself to your full potential. The overall conclusion became, “Practicing is very important, but does not guarantee you will master a skill.” The misconception of this rule came from the idea that simply dedicating time to something will give you results of improvement. More factors matter. Just practicing hard will not make you an expert.

The ability to hone skills can overcome natural talent. Developing a skill is how awkward becomes confident. A skill can develop through “deliberate practice” Deliberate practice is focusing on a weak point in a skill. The goal is to strengthen your weak point by taking note on, and experimenting with, ways to keep the weak point from blocking improvement of that skill. Set a purpose or a focus. The mind has so many options, it tends to be inconsistent. Trimming the options equals to cutting out distractions.

Have a guide or a vague idea of what is to be accomplished while practicing. When practicing archery, a person may schedule a time to work only on form. They may stand in front of a mirror, and repeatedly draw an arrow only to see and correct their form or stance. When studying math, a person may solve a problem multiple times taking note of where their mind starts to go blank. They will practice the math skill that gets them pass that confusion.

Know where you need your improvement, and identify what needs to be worked on. This is the only way to move to a higher level of performance, like earning a belt in martial arts. Once you have worked on the identified problem, put the changes to the test. Always look for opportunities to utilize desired skills. Doing and trying are the best forms of practice. Put yourself in the position to use what you need to know. Using skills in the natural setting of the skill will reinforce what was learned. More times to exercise or perform will reveal the strengths and weaknesses that remain in that skill.

Find different ways to include a skill into your life. If you play sports, find friends to play a couple friendly matches with. If you like science, throw the new theory you learned into an everyday conversation. If you are working on public speaking skills, try making small talk with a stranger. Maybe talk with the cashier while you’re at check-out. They’re used to small talk, and will most likely be pleasantly surprised if you ask them about their day.

The 10k rule brings a good mindset, but does not tell the full story. Practicing often will give you the opportunity to grow. You will only grow if you are attentive to how you preform. Pay attention to the details that make up a skill, or the foundation of a skill. Divide a skill into the smaller talents. Your skills will become more refined, developing into the awesome talent you potentially carry. Don’t be afraid to find your mistakes or your “limits” Those limits, in most cases, are not permanent. Most times, all you need is a little practice.