I stumbled into this article because I was wondering whether I would have enough hours in one lifetime to get good at all the things I wanted to get good at. Turns out, if I do it methodically enough, I can get to “expert” level at exactly 21.9 things (50 years * 365 days * 12 hours per day). That’s a lot of things. That’s also hyper-unrealistic, though fun to think about.
Fortunately, Nielsen’s reminds us that isn’t purely the amount of time, but the quality of the time spent, that matters. And also that Gladwell is infamous for simplifying matters.
Basically, it isn’t that you should spend 10,000 hours practicing the same thing over and over, but that you try to spend every hour you can pushing the limits of your ability. And if you do, you’ll get somewhere amazing regardless of whether you’ve hit 10,000 or not. Maybe you’ll be the next Heisenberg or Chaitin. Maybe your next big triumph is but one hour-long struggle against the boundaries of your knowledge away.
The 10,000 hour rule is a nice heuristic. Embedded in it is a lesson of patience, perseverance and faith in oneself. But at the same time, one shouldn’t disregard the importance of quality over quantity. This is encouraging for those of us who want to play the guitar, program computers like a badass, AND be a Pokémon master all in one lifetime.
Well, I’m off to catch ‘em all. Laters.