Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Outliers & the 10,000 Hour Rule

Readers have found the ideas that Gladwell raises in chapter two of Outliers quiet fascinating. In particular, they have been drawn to Gladwell’s discussion of the “10,000 hour rule,” that is, the notion that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice for a person to gain a truly remarkable mastery of a given skill. In other words, people would have to work on perfecting their skills for approximately 20 hours a week over the course of 10 years in order to acquire and display exceptional degrees of expertise.

Gladwell cites the early careers of computer whizzes Bill Joy and Bill Gates and The Beatles as examples of people who had achieved success in large part because they had achieved their 10,000 hours of practice. It’s worth noting that those who gain those 10,000 hours of practice have unique resources and vital networks of support and opportunity.

What’s a useful or creative way that we could start thinking about the 10,000 hour rule or at least something comparable in terms of an extended commitment to a field of study or talent here at SIUE? Is something comparable (hundreds of hours as opposed to ten thousand) even possible given the demands and perhaps distractions of a general college education?

Related posts
Accumulative Advantages & Outliers
Outliers and Community

20 comments:

Bryan M. said...

My comment will relate to the talent area. I started playing baseball probably around the age of 3 or 4, and played until this past May when my senior season ended. Baseball was my life. I played for hours and hours and hours every week. The post says it will take approximately 20 hours a week for about 10 years and i probably overcame the 20 hours a week, well at least during summer and spring. I'd say that I started off at the same skill level as all the other players, but since I enjoyed it so much I spent more time before and after practice working on all of the fundamentals of the game. By the time I reached high school, I was an above average athelete. All of this was due to hard work and commitment to the game. Here, at the college level, it would take much more than this to stick out in a group of very expectional athletes. To make any athletic team be the best that they could be, I would say more than 20 hours a week of practice would be necessary. It is true what they say, practice makes perfect, and it will take many hours, perhaps 10,000, to reach that goal of perfect. This holds true in the classroom as well. All students need to study every night in order to obtain as much knowledge as possible.

Maame Antwi said...

A creative way that we could start thinking about the 10,000 hour rule is you have to put in effort in order to achieve what you desire. I do believe that is would be very difficult to devote that much time on school work while in college due to all the distractions taht occure on a college campus, but not impossible. I do not think that anything is compariable to that amout of time. spending 10,000 hours on mastering a skill or talent is pretty much like devoting all your time (spare time and non-spare time) to that given talent or skill. Anyone that does devote that much time to a talent/skill must be very devoted and driven and I think that should be apart of the 10,000 hour rule.

Greg Lee said...

I think the 10,000 hour rule applies in every situation. You can't be the best at what you do without practice. Micheal Jordan practice 10,000 hours along with Tiger Woods. Yes that both had exceptional talent but that is like a lump of coal and all the practice compressed and shaped into the diamond we see today.

Gabriel C. said...

I believe that the "10,000 hour rule" is something that as students, and future leaders of the world, we have to, very seriously, look at. Now, I believe that you can not simply define an amount of time that there is to become efficient and gain a skill. Some are blessed with an aptidude for certain things that allow them to be a step above the rest. However, with hard work and dedication anything can be put into our our grasp. It is important to know that anything worth having is not going to be easy to get, but that should not soften our resolve. Hard work is what this country was built on. When times are difficult at school it is key to realize that the time put in your work will be equivalent to the knowledge you are able to retain once you leave this institution.

Brian Cooper said...

The 10,000hr Rule is applicable in all aspects of life not just with talents and skills. Everyone spends 10,000hrs doing something they love at one time or another in their life, whether it is reading, writing stories, or playing games. So I honestly do not think it would be hard to translate that into college life.
Achieving the 10,000hr mark in a particular field of study or talent while here at SIUE is definitely tangible, since hopefully all the students here have chosen a major or majors that they are passionate about. And naturally if you are passionate about something you are going to spend more time doing it and will sometimes even go out of your way to do it.
During Springboard this summer many of the speakers broke down an equation of how to organize time while enrolled here: There are 160hrs in a week, 56hrs for sleeping/eating, 30hrs for studying, 15hrs for classes, 20hrs for a job, and 25 for social events. You could use 20 out of your 25 social hrs for your career or passion (but seeing as how college kids like to party thats not realistic).
For example, I am a dance major. So i have dance classes where i practice my skills. I am also placed in a couple dances for Dance In Concert so I have practice for hrs. And i also spend some of my spare time practicing my skills/developing my field of study, so i easly reach well over the needed 20hrs a week for the 10,000 Rule. So if everyone combines a few hrs from each category reaching the 10,000 Rule is simple.

Moriah said...

I believe that the 10,000 rule holds true in the mastery of just about any activity. However, the person participating in all those long hours has no time for anything else. The 10,000 rule would be impossible to reach for someone who tried to participate any other activity. It would not be realistic goal for most people because the majority of people in this world like to fill their lives with variety.

Alexis Cortes said...

I think anything is possible if you are truly passionate about something, even getting 10,000 hours of practice with all the distractions of a general college education. I would like to pursue a career in the medical field so in high school I took advantage of our 'Medical Occupations' program. As students, we were allowed to visit certain medical offices and hospitals and follow around a doctor or nurse, etc. We got a feel for what their job was like. It was a great opportunity to make connections with people already in the medical field. If they liked you, you could ask for an intership in their office. All of us were getting practice. Even if it wasn't necessarily hands on, we learned something from watching and talking to the medical professional. We may not have had the distractions of a college education, but we did have other responsibilities and commitments such as a school sport, a job, and of course, homework for our other classes. We set our own schedule for these appointments. I think the same could hold true in college. If you are going after something you really care about you will make time for it and put in the extra effort to become an expert.

Jennifer Johnson said...

the 10,000 hour rule pretty much says that to become a master at anthing that you want to be successful in, you have to put in at 10,000 hours. i belive that it would be near impossible to study in your feild for 10,000 hours unless you plan to spnd years in college. Because of the many things that you should involve yourself with in college in order to have a preferential resume, they would be too great of a distraction to complete the hours that are said to be needed for mastery. But on the contrary, there are many who are masters in their feilds who have maybe completed less than thousands of hours and are still very successful, therefore, it seems that that rule may not be completly true to all

Renee Goodenough said...

I think that the 10,000 hour rule applies to all aspects of life. If a person actually puts forth the effort to master a particular skill for 10,000 hours, I believe that he or she would inevitably progress. I also believe that giving 10,000 or even hundreds of hours to a field of study is definitely possible for a college student as long as that particular student is 100% committed to improving.

Alex H. said...

I think college is a very difficult but also very crucial time to start incorporating the 10,000 hour rule into your life. It is difficult because it's college. Going to class, doing homework, studying, researching, all take up a lot of time. Some times it can be hard to find time for yourself and to dedicate 10,000 hours to something? It's mind blowing and stressful. It's also difficult because there are so many distractions. Despite the difficulties, college is also a very crucial time to incorporate the 10,000 hour rule. What you do in college determines your career, your path, your life. It's a big deal. If a person really wants to achieve their goals now is the time to start this. Even though college is hectic and stressful, if a person really focuses and begins to dedicate their time to the 10,000 hour rule now, there is no limit to what could be achieved.

Terrence Harris said...

The 10,000 hour rule is something comparable in terms of an extented committment to a field of study or talent here at SIUE. Since I am a music and theatre performer, I have to continuously practice to be able to perform at collegiate level. If I dont continue to practice then I won't be able to get cast in a play or musical, or I wouldn't be able to participate in an elite performing group.
In terms of field of study, the 10,000 hour rule can apply to a student's studies, but maybe not as many hours. SIUE recommends 2 hours of study per credit hour. On average each student take 15 credit hours a sememster, requiring 30 hours of study. Two sememsters a school term equals 60hours of study. After four years of college, students study about 240 hours. This is only a minimum of two hours of studying. Many students that strive to be the best in their field of study will study two or maybe three times more than the recommended two hours.
This rule can be difficult to follow on a college campus because of all of the distractions of extracurricular activities, spending time with friends significant others, or family, as well as parties and vacations. So the only way to maintain the 10,000 hour rule is through time-management. If students budget their time and prioritize their studying then they can still practice the 10,000 hour rule.

Clarissa B. said...

I believe that while the 10,000 hour rule is a great theory, with a college student's busy schedule (ESPECIALLY a working college student) it is hard enough dedicating time to study for all of your classes. Do I think it might be possible later in my college career? Yes, but right now it's out of the question.

robert dammer said...

The 10,000 Hour Rule is very close to the truth. We can see different versions of this rule in a lot of the things we hear people say, be it something as simple as "practice makes perfect" or when my taekwondo master told me that you have practice each movement a thousand times before you can begin to master it.
Completing these ten thousand hours of practice is not simple an obligation that must be fulfilled by an individual; it is a display of passion and commitment for something. If you break down the twenty hours a week, you essentially have around three hours of practice each day of the week (four hours if you exclude the weekends). When you take into consideration the various things a student has to do every day including time spent in class, extra-curricular activities, sports, even sleeping, this measly three to four hours a day starts to look bigger and bigger. Carrying it through four years of life on campus means that you'll still be short of the half-way mark upon graduating, and even if you did it all through college and high school before it, you have two years left before you can reach that ten thousand hour mark. This is such a massive amount of time that one can only achieve ten thousand hours in ten years if they dedicate their life to it.
Considering all of this, most people never reach the ten thousand hours in ten years if they manage to reach it all. Usually it will be diluted across much of their life, taking twenty, thirty, forty years to master something, and in these cases it's usually something that, while the person holds it to be important, they can easily go without it. It's only the people who find something they feel strongly about and dedicate their lives (not their time, their lives) to it who manage to reach the ten thousand hours.

Gwen Grogan said...

The "10,000 hour rule" was very true. We cannot be great at something without investing time and energy. No great athlete, singer, musician, or doctor just woke up one day and became great. They probably did their research and have become great after years of practice.

Ronald Banks said...

With the 10,000 Hour Rule I believe the results is true. When I was in high school I had played basketball. The more I had applied myself the better my skill level became. As being the young and better future we should apply this rule to our studies. We would become successful young scholars. All students should apply 30 hours a week to there studies. Over an four year span that would be 6,240. That would help us become closer to excellence. With reading about people like the beetles and Bill Gates they great work ethic. I believe that should be for anyone that want to be successful.

Natalie B. said...

As far as the 10,000 rule is concerned, I'll be the first to agree. Whille attending SIUE will I get anywhere near that amount of time devoted to my major. This is not because of the school, it is because of my other responsibilities. As Gladwell mentions, you can't have a part-time job and still have time to master your skill. Though, what students may not receive in college, it does give us a starting point. From this point (graduation) you can get a job in the field. This is where most people eventually may receive their 10000 hours. It seems to me that, even if we don't aknowlege the 10000 hour rule, it is built into our society. As we work for a company, and build our expertise, our pay increases because we become experts on the job.

Christian Harrelson said...

First a person must find the talent they love and will stay devoted to. Then they may achieve the 10,000 hour theory. After your discover your talent you could imagine the life you could live after your talent leads to your success.
Since a college campus provides many distractions a person must decide what they must give up to achieve the 10,000 hours or even hundreds of hours. Obviously you cannot give up education, but a student must attend less out of school social opportunities.
After reading this chapter I started to believe anyone can do anything as long as your love what your doing and you practice what you love. One thing this book says that may contradict my belief is that the book also states that cutoff dates and opportunities in your younger years also provide success.

Kennen Hutchison said...

I think that the 10,000 hour rule is an absolute solid. However, that being said, i think that there is a sub-clause in there. That sub-clause being that you have to have two attributes for it to work: 1.) You need to have an above average amount of talent 2.) You need to have an ability to continue learning and increasing in skill as time goes on. I say this because there are some people who no matter how hard they try just can not surpass a certain level once they've reached a specific point. At the other end there are those people who have no natural talent or are just average so that they are always going to be behind those who have a natural god given knack at whatever they do.

AustinB said...

The 10,000 hour rule is a very interesting theory. It is true that you can't become better at something without practicing it, the more often the better. In addition, I feel that passion for the activity and drive also have a lot to do with skill level achieved. For example, if I were told to practice for 20 hours a week for 10 years on an instrument I had absolutely no interest in playing, I would be hard pressed to do well on that. Since the driving force of my practice would be existential, once that outside force was removed such as my parents or instructors, it would be very unlikely that I would continue to practice at that rate since I did not enjoy practicing. As for the rule being applicable to other facets of life such as to studying in college, I believe that while it can also apply to this, if the drive for studying isn't internal, than the hours spent are wasted since without drive, you wouldn't continue to study at that consistent pace. Instead of focusing merely on the time spent on learning a skill, the reason(s) for wanting to hold that skill should be examined in depth as well.

Ricky Mahajan said...

The 10,000 hour rule could be used in mastering anything. A unique thing to use the 10,000 hour rule for is useful for use in fields like dentistry where if you put in you hundreds of hours of practice you will get out a dentistry liscence. It is very possible to get 100's of hours of practice if you are willing to make social sacrafices.