Why not to listen to the 10,000 hour rule.

I’ve recently been engaged in a lively discussion about the 10,000 hour rule from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. I chose to take a stand against this rule because I believe it to be flawed and discouraging. When you willingly play devil’s advocate on a site where you know you’re going to get flamed for your thoughts, it’s interesting to see how your own thoughts develop. Knowing I’d be wasting my time continuing the discussion there, I decided to move my thoughts here where they belong. Maybe I’ll find a few of you playing devil’s advocate against my ideas too! 🙂

I imagine how this is how Seth Godin felt when he challenged Vince Lombardi’s advice that “winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Pick up a copy of Outliers and at least skim the chapter on the 10,000 hour rule. You’ll find real quickly that it’s not a happy chapter. It talks about how child prodigies start young and put in time (it doesn’t say they were willingly doing the time — the choice to do something is a lot different from doing something your parents want you to do!). It also says that the true “greats” are born within a certain period of time and anyone outside of this calendar analysis has missed the boat. To me, that’s really discouraging!

Fortunately, I don’t believe that one must be a child prodigy or be born within a window of opportunity. So come along with me on this journey to debunk the 10,000 hour rule and let’s prove that success comes to those who work for it without counting “billable hours!”