You’ve probably heard of the famous “10,000-hour rule“.
It has been defined by journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success“.
He created this rule based on the results of a 1993 study on violin players. That study shows that the best performer had put at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to refine their talent.
This rule is used by many speakers and motivators. In a way, it says that it’s not about your talent, but it’s the amount of work you’re ready to put in that will make the difference. And if you are prepared to put in 10,000 hours of practice, you can aim to mastery.
In a way, I like to be reminded of the importance of practice as a vital part of the journey to mastery. But there’s always a risk of oversimplification when we put all the focus on the outcome. Because when everything is about the results, then the practice is just a means to an end. Something to get through, as quickly as possible.
Recently, Brooke Macnamara, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, decided to repeat part of the 1993 study. You can find more about this story in this article.
Macnamara, states that “When it comes to human skill, a complex combination of environmental factors, genetic factors and their interactions explains the performance differences across people.”
So, practice is fundamental, but many other factors will determine the final outcome. And that’s in an important reminder that we should fall in love with the practice itself.
Macnamara also said: “Practice makes you better than you were yesterday, most of the time, but it might not make you better than your neighbour. Or the other kid in your violin class.”
And that’s all the beauty of the practice. It is not about competition, it’s about realising our full potential as humans.