10,000 Hours – The Argument Against

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Despite, actually because of, the best efforts of Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Coyle and Dan of The Dan Plan, Anders Ericsson’s theories on Deliberate Practice the 10,000 hour theory (first published here in 1993) for achieving expertise in a field has become very fashionable.  Not surprisingly it has also been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted**  People focus on the 10,000 part because that is the easiest thing to focus on.  For me, the 10,000 hours has never been the most interesting or important part of the discussion.  Of course it isn’t exactly 10,000 hours.  The point is you have to work very well for a very long time.  To focus on the exact number of hours is to totally miss the point.  The other point of focus is that there is no such thing as talent, that becoming an expert is purely a matter of work done.  Again this is ridiculous enough that you can ignore the details of it.  The point is you can’t achieve expertise on talent alone.

To summarise, to achieve expertise in a given field talent alone is not enough.  You have to work your arse off, in a very focused and dedicated way, for a long time.

If you want to argue against the specifics of the theory and other works of Ericsson, you should read this article.


**One can’t discount the possibility that everyone else has interpreted it correctly and I am the one who hasn’t.

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