I read Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell a couple of years ago and it really stuck with me.
In Outliers, Gladwell investigates what makes people successful. He uses prominent figures like Bill Gates and The Beatles as examples and analyzes birthdate, upbringing, opportunities, cultural inheritance, and this idea of 10,000 hours.
Gladwell argues that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate work—defined as purposeful and single-minded with the intent to get better—at something to become a true expert. A master.
Now, 10,000 hours is a really long time. That’s 417 days straight, 5 years of full time work, the amount of time it would take to travel to and from Mars (not including the months you’d need to wait for the planets to realign), or 556 Harry Potter movie marathons.
Out of curiosity, I calculated how many hours I’ve put toward writing novels and found that I’m hovering right around 8,500 hours. Which isn’t bad considering I started writing back in October 2008 and mainly do so on weekends and early in the morning before work.
But this is what stands out to me: you have to be extremely passionate about something to pursue it for 10,000 hours.
I’m absolutely passionate about writing, the art of storytelling and word wrangling. Other things in my life that probably come close to hitting the 10,000 hour mark are reading, running, math (oh, the hours I’ve spent memorizing the unit circle for Calculus!), and making burritos (as a Colorado native, this has been a staple in my diet since before I can remember).
Have you worked at something for 10,000 hours? If so, what is it? What do you think of Gladwell’s 10,000 hour idea?