Concept fourteen: 10,000 hours to practice?

The 10,000-hours concept can be traced back to a 1993 paper written by Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, called The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.

It highlighted the work of a group of psychologists in Berlin, who had studied the practice habits of violin students in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

All had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age 20, the elite performers had averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only done 4,000 hours of practice.

The psychologists didn’t see any naturally gifted performers emerge and this surprised them. If natural talent had played a role it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect gifted performers to emerge after, say, 5,000 hours.

Anders Ericsson concluded that “many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years”.

It is Malcolm Gladwell’s hugely popular book, Outliers, that is largely responsible for introducing “the 10,000-hour rule” to a mass audience – it’s the name of one of the chapters.

Let us evaluate:

10,000 hours of practice one needs to master a skill.

If we spend 8 hours daily practicing, we would need 12 days to master a skill. That means about three and half years to do this.

This again is on assumption that we will spend full time in mastering a skill. Is it really feasible? I doubt it. Then what is the solution?

Mr. Josh Kaufman, the author of the two best selling books, and an international figure has different ideas on the subject. View the video clip from his TED talk (viewed over 6.7 million times) given below:



  1. Select a skill that you want to develop.
  2. Spend 45 minutes every day to master the skill.
  3. After 20 days, evaluate your competence. Ensure that you have sufficiently achieved your goal.








                                                            LESSON ENDS HERE