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Gladwell: 10,000 hours to success

Gladwell: 10,000 hours to success

Tim Finin, 1:48pm 16 November 2008

The Guardian has an extract, A gift or hard graft?, from Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers: The Story Of Success, due out later this month. The piece introduces the idea that a key to becoming extraordinarily successful in a field is achieving early expertise and that to become an expert in a discipline requires on the order of 10,000 hours of practice. The 10K figure comes from the research of Anders Ericsson who in the early 1990s studied violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music.

“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals” – musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”

The extract focuses on some of the most successful people in the computer industry — Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others — and argues that another part of their success was being born at the right time, in 1954 or 1955. This made them about 20 years old when the first person computers became available.

I’m going to seize on this as yet another personal excuse — I was born a half decade too early.


7 Responses to “Gladwell: 10,000 hours to success”

  1. Mithun Says:

    Dr. Finin, Thanks for the post and the article.

  2. HowToMakeMyBlog.com Says:

    Sounds like a very interesting book to read. He posted some excerpts from the book on http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/

  3. Don Says:

    this theory is exactly why bands in their 30″s or older, if still being innovative and working hard are a better bet than these teen acts with no experience!!!!

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  6. 10,000 hours and The Coming Online Talent Explosion | eaves.ca Says:

    […] Gladwell talks about how it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in area, subject or practice. Reference a study of musicians that sought to determine how many “natural” talents their were, Gladwell notes that: “The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals” – musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”(H/T Tim Finin) […]

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