About our Name: Ten Thousand Hours

When our new clients or visitors see our name they either know right away what it refers to or have no ideas whatsoever about its meaning.

We care about this name because it represents the quest for expertise and excellence which is open to all.

The Great Myth

Whether we like it or not the name of the game in nature is inequality. Many modern societies aim for the ideal of the 'equality of rights' for all. This is possible although very difficult.

Observing different folks and their achievement in the various fields of arts, crafts, sports, wealth and social ranks, etc. we can see that some people tend to rise to the top way above everyone else. The obvious question is how did they get up there?

The Myth of the Genius

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

If you'd ask most folks how the best of the best got to where they are in every observable field, I'm sure many would answer that it's due to innate talent to the tune of 80% or so!

What's interesting is that when many athletes, artists or other great dreamers were voicing their goals and desires early in life, the majority of folks tried to discourage them, telling them not to hope too much as they will most likely crash. Those who succeeded refused this negative outlook attitude.

Malcolm Gladwell

In his outstanding book Outliers: The Story of Success Malcolm Gladwell analyzes some great success stories of the last 100 years or so and postulates that three main factors are needed to become a world expert in any given field.

  • Innate talent. This parameter does not factor as much as most people think
  • Luck & Fortunate Circumstances. Many brilliant outliers and their admirers tend to overlook how lucky they have been along the way.
  • Deliberate practice. This is crucial. All the super-gifted geniuses whom many admire have actually put in a very minimum of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and this is what's needed to reach world class expert level. Typical genius example, Mozart, had actually put in more than 10Khours by the time he was 10. Same for super-phenom golf player Tiger Woods.

What do we Think of This?

This is our view on these three factors:

  • Innate talent. This might account for 20% of the equation of success. In any case we can't really do much about this so there is no need to dwell on it.
  • Luck & Fortunate Circumstances. May be 30 or 40% importance. This comes in the form of finding good mentors in our early years, to live in a country with sufficient wealth and opportunities, etc. Some of it is beyond our control but there are ways to take advantage of one's luck and to increase the opportunities it provides.
  • Deliberate practice. 40 to 50%. We have most control of this factor so we should put all or most of the energy right there. Deliberate practice does not mean putting in 10,000 hours of repetitive, mindless practice. You want to work smarter, not harder. This means you always challenge yourself to learn something which you can't do yet. Something which is impossible for now. Once you have moved up one level, you take just a little time to enjoy your new level and you move on working on something else which you can't do.

Conclusions

Our name is very cool!

Note that the above does not mean that anyone putting in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice will necessarily become a world expert in their hobby or job but it will increase tremendously the likelihood to get there.

It's much more rewarding to keep on learning and to become better and better during all our activities rather than doing one's job mechanically for 30 or 40 years.

In any case, if you have not read the book so far, you might want to do so.

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