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Heard Of The 10,000 Hour Rule? What if we told you it doesn’t exist?

t6.11.13 Bob King -- kingFLOOD0613c2 -- Trevor Bernsdorf hits a ball pitched to him by his brother Riley on the field near their home their family has converted into a baseball practice field. The Bernsdorf brothers take turns pitching and hitting there every day after practice. The two, who live in Meadowlands, will lead the Floodwood team in the Class A state baseball tournament today.

Ever since the publication of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers in 2008, the idea of a “10,000 Hour Rule” has entered the mainstream conversation on how to build a business or a skill for success. Gladwell points to the extremely wealthy and successful, such as Bill Gates, and examines their past experience in the field they are in.  Through this, he found that at the point someone dedicates 10,000 hours to their trade, they will without a doubt be successful.  On an intuitive level, this seems logical and expected.  Dedicating what amounts to over a year spent practicing should provide results because, as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect.  However, in reality, it has been shown that this is in fact incorrect; the 10,000 Hour Rule does not exist.

Over the past years, numerous reports were published that attempted to disprove the 10,000 Hour Rule.  For example, a meta-analysis produced by Brooke M. Macnamara of Princeton University evaluates over 88 different studies that are composed of over 11,000 participants came to the conclusion that while practice helps, external qualities such as intelligence or age are more important.  Statistically, this meta-analysis reports that only about 12 percent of those who devote sufficient time to a skill will develop any meaningful abilities in it.  This is a huge difference compared to Gladwell’s assurance of ability after proper time is devoted.

Recent studies, however, are quick to point out more realistic traits that can determine success.  For example, the general community involved in the study of skill development will list the following to explain the differences between skill levels:

. Intelligence

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. Age

. Demographic

. Skill

. Weight

. Genetics

. Social class

. Financial position

Overall, the 10,000 Hour Rule, while catchy, is not a reliable indicator of acquired skill level. But, it’s reasonable to think that if you love what you do and are passionate about it, your chances of success at the 10,000 hour mark are much greater!

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