10,000 Hours of Purposeful Practice

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he discusses the theory of 10,000 hours.  By examining several individuals that were considered the elite in their field of expertise, he was able to find that all of them had something in common. Over the course of each of these individual’s lives, they were able to devote a lot of their time, around 10,000 hours in fact, to their craft.

It isn’t just any kind of practice. In Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, they devote an entire chapter to The Power of Purposeful Practice. It is not just the 10,000 hours of practice, it is the 10,000 hours of purposeful practice that is important.

This is a LOT.

If you practice something 1 hour every day, it will take you 27.4 years to get to 10,000 hours.  That lowers to 18.3 years if practicing 1.5 hours every day, and down to 13.7 years if you practice 2 hours every day.  You need to practice about 2 hours and 45 minutes a day at something to reach 10000 hours in 10 years.

The average adult American watches television for 35.5 hours per week.  At this rate, it only takes us 5.4 years of purposeful watching to become an expert at watching television.

This is a huge reason why most conversations are dominated by talking about what is on TV or the recent movie.  We all seem to be experts.  For some, it means talking extensively about sports, and specifically, their favorite sports team.  For others, it means dissecting each episode of Game of Thrones.

If you could go back and trade just a small portion of all that TV watching for the purposeful practice of something would you? If yes, where would you be now?

Maybe you would be an expert in coding and software development.

Maybe you would be an expert small start-up investor.

Maybe you would be fluent in 2 or 3 languages.

Maybe you would be an expert piano, guitar, or drum player.

At this point in my life, I probably won’t reach 10000 hours in my language learning, guitar practice, or jiu-jitsu that I’ve recently taken on in my life.  However, there definitely won’t come a time when I wished I had traded all the hours that I will inevitably put into these new activities for some more TV or movie watching.

3 thoughts on “10,000 Hours of Purposeful Practice

    1. I was able to finally squeeze in some time to watch Solo: A Star Wars Story on the ride to Kirksville. But I missed much of the fall colors, the thunderheads, and the setting sun. It definitely came at a cost!

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