10,000 Hours to Mastery

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers has been out a few months now, but I’m still struck by the widespread consensus about one of his revelations: That it takes roughly 10,000 hours of working at anything to achieve mastery of it: cooking, archery, pottery, fishing, writing, etc.

“Ten thousand hours. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

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