can 10000hours make you an expert


There is a rule of thumb that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Many of the self-improvement gurus write about this. Malcolm Gladwell referenced the rule many times in his book Outliers. His primary argument was that to excel at something requires many many hours of practice. One example he gave was The Beatles. Between 1960 and 1964 they gave over 1,200 live performances in Hamburg clocking up more than 10,000. The Beatles’ biographer Philip Norman said that when they returned from Germany “they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.”

It is easy to conclude that the secret to success is a lot of hard work and practice, but this is only part of the story. The original concept of 10,000-hours rule resulted from the work of Dr K. Anders Ericsson. However, in Ericsson’s work, he talks about giftedness and deliberate practice. In deliberate practice “Aspiring performers therefore concentrate on improving specific aspects by engaging in practice activities designed to change and refine particular mediating mechanisms, requiring problem-solving and successive refinement with feedback.” It “is a very special form of activity that differs from mere experience and mindless drill.”  

The symbol for progress echoes Ericsson’s “deliberate practice”. Progress is not just change and a lot of practising. To make progress, you need to think of new ideas, test what you are doing. Try new ways and measure which is better. Eliminating those that fail and building on those that succeed.