Malcolm Gladwell introduced the rule according to which one in order to achieve significant success in any field must invest (practice) 10 000 hours of their life. Since then a myth of “10 000 hours rule” became one of the most extremely popular and persistent stereotypes in the field of psychology.
Supposedly, this rule can make anyone extremely successful in any field; however, the problem of this rule is that it is only half-true. A psychologist Daniel Goleman, in his book “Emotional Intelligence” (1995) debunks this theory and presents a more complex nature of the issue. If you are new to the game of golf and constantly make the same mistake practicing it for 10,000 hours will not improve your skills and the level of the game or as he (1995) puts it “You’ll still be a duffer, albeit an older one”. Thus, the mechanical repetition of actions will bring you somewhere, but you need to adjust the performance of certain tasks repeatedly.
Perhaps the following will sound very familiar and obvious but the key to steady improvement is not the amount of time we invest, but its quality. Despite knowing that we still often expect to become successful solely on the amount of time that we devote to the solution of a problem. Instead, we need to concentrate on the deliberate practice that is continuous training, in which we concentrate entirely, following the instructions of a qualified expert or mentor. This approach is fundamentally different from the approach of measuring success only by the number of hours dedicated to training.
Feedback is a necessary element that allows us to identify mistakes and fix them. Ideally, feedback should come from an expert in the field: without such kind of feedback, one would hardly ever succeed. It is also important to think realistically. Dreams have a creative advantage, but in the context of focused practice, they only dilute the effectiveness of the process. Goleman (1995) says that listening to music or watching TV during practice will not “boost the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expand or create neural networks”. However, he adds “at least at first”. Because once we get used to the case, which was once new, we start doing it well automatically.
At this point, it is important not to become a hostage of “okay-plateau” which prevents from growth and development. I am sure that we can all relate to that “good enough” level of performance where we are able to perform the desired action with ease and more or less effortlessly. Thus, if you are going to achieve brilliant success, it is time to move from the autopilot back to the stage of active attention.
Even if the quality issue has been resolved, the amount of time issue is still open. How much deliberate practice of full concentration is enough to achieve perfection?
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.