Research has shown that 10,000 hours is the threshold, the “magic” point at which a person goes from being okay to being a super success. It has almost nothing to do with talent, just persistence.
You have to be just above a threshold. It is like basketball, you should be tall enough. You have to be above 6 feet. But it hardly matters whether you are 6 feet 8 or 6 feet 6. Then it is your skills that matter.
According to various studies and various books like outliers it took nearly 10 years of practice for anyone to become a master of their art, Beethoven, Beatles, Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jackson and many other brilliant people. But 10 years of doing what? Well, precisely it takes about 10,000 hours of practice in any art to become a master of it.
Studies have shown that music teachers, on average, practiced and studied an average of 4,000 hours before achieving their goal. Moderately successful performers and bands – the ones who achieve regional fame, perhaps make a so-so living playing at the state fair each year, or become lifelong opening acts – have put in, on average, 7,000 hours total before achieving their level of success. Super stars, however – Cher, James Taylor, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, etc. – generally work and practice and keep on growing for no less than 10,000 hours. That’s the difference.
Very few people around the world do that much work.
A quick calculation, if we practice an art, a hobby that we love to do, for say about 2.5 hours a day, for 200 days a year. That makes it 500 hours a year. It will take 20 years for you to become the genius in the field. But about 12 years of practice could make you an expert, better than majority of people in your field. Of course, if you put in more effort, you will achieve the result even better.
Sachin Tendulkar began playing cricket at the age of 10, at 16 he was a part on Indian Cricket Team. The reason was his skill which improved as he practiced his skill for 5-6 hours daily, for more than 250 days a year, for 6 years, making a quick calculation, it takes us to:
6 * 250 *5 =7500 hours of hard work.
It took him another 3 or 4 years before he was called the Master Blaster, Genius, tags that he earned when he showed real consistent performances.
The Beatles were a great example of that. In the late 1950s, the Beatles were a so-so, knock about band in England, going nowhere. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. All of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes Beatles’ biographer Philip Norman as saying, “So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.”
Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.
I don’t care how smart or talented you are. You could be the biggest dullard in the world. However, if you commit to working and learning and practicing, to trying and trying (and yes, failing), for 10,000 hours, you will become ranked among the best in your field.
So, in essence what I am saying is, decide how long you want to go in your field and pick one. Picking just skill helps you focus on that one thing fully. If you are wandering around in two or three skills, it would take 30-35 years of hard work before you could master them, which is too long to ask for and lot of people quit, settling for mediocre jobs, which provide them job security and stable life. But they go on hating their jobs because of not having achieved the dreams they dreamed when they were young.
So, focus on one skill, practice it every day, when you are 80-90 hours into a skill, you will start seeing real results, if you like them, keep on going, if not, change the skill and focus again. You should try out more than 5-6 skills, if needed. One of them is going to be for you. More often than not, the first or the second skill you chose to dabble with is going to be your thing. But even if it is not, it would be impossible not to find that skill as your third or fourth option.
So, pick up a skill and practice it till you drop dead and in 7 years you could be a legend on world stage, and when you have done that, and when they ask your secret of success in interviews, do mention me 🙂