Why The 10,000 Hour Rule is a Myth. By lulu Dalzell

"Too good to be true."

Ever since Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers release there has been buzz over 10,000 hour rule. Malcolm claimed that the key to expertise in a certain field is working 10,000 hours. This key to success seemed too good to be true, and it is. Evidence shows that this key to success is a myth. There are many reasons why this is incorrect, it is because everything from making mistakes to applying a specific number to such a broad group of people.

The book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell that made the 10,000 rule go viral.

Different people may have different reactions to such an enduring practice time. According to author Drake Baer, the 10,000 rule doesn’t seperate who is good from who is great in the long run. A meta-analysis led by psychologist Brooke Macnamara, who is a Case Western Reserve University psychologist, her team studied the practice of 2,765 student athletes practice through 34 different studies. Macnamara and her colleagues that on average, deliberate practice was the reason for 18 percent of the performance difference showing that deliberate practice is more effective than frequency practice. (Drake Baer)

"The key to success is deliberate practice"

The Florida State University psychologist, Anders Ericsson (who also conducted the study which started Gladwell’s 10,000 theory), argues that instead of working 10,000 hours, the key to success is “deliberate practice”. "This is where an expert coach takes you through a well-thought out training course over months or even years." (David Bradley) This strategy is proven to be more effective instead of repetitive practice, deliberate practice works better. This is because instead of the skill becoming muscle memory, working on things you have been doing wrong or how to improve your performance are shown to be more effective.

However, when someone is practicing something wrong and they do this for many of the 10,000 hours the time spent incorrectly practicing this way didn’t happen or could even have a damage on their further progress, having to go back and fix the mistakes. It is better to do work correctly than doing sloppy work that can possibly hurt your future progress if you have to go back and fix your mistakes.

Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist who's studies that Gladwell based the 10,000 rule on.

Of course there are other ways that make Gladwell’s theory false. There are other factors that play into being an expert. One is an environmental advantage, on the occasion one grew up in a household of world renowned musicians they are more likely to follow in their footsteps. There is also the genetic factor, when a grandparent or parent is great at trigonometry or painting their children or grandchildren are more likely to have this skill. (David Bradley)

If you grew up in a household of world renowned musicians you are more likely to follow in their footsteps.

According to author David Bradley, you may have to more or less than 10,000 hours depending on many genetic and environmental factory, but "10,000 hours is a good place to start at for blatant beginners" says Ericsson. (BBC Future) An algorithm for those that don't believe that the rule is false this and would like to achieve 10,000 hours in the shortest amount of time possible while only working 182.4 minutes a day. To achieve this you would have to work 182.4 minutes a day (3.04 hours) for nine years to work on something for 10,000 hours while still having a life and free time outside of their practiced field.

While even though the 10,000 hour rule seems too good to be true, because it is, this won’t stop many people from still trying to achieve this goal. But deliberate practice is proven to be more effective, even if it isn’t as well known as the 10,000 hour rule.


Baer, Drake. "Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule Doesn't Work so Well if You're an Olympic Athlete." Heatstreet, 9 Aug. 2016, heatst.com/life/Heatstreet, 9 Aug. 2016, heatst.com/life/malcolm-gladwells-10000-hours-rule-doesnt-work-so-well-if-youre-an-olympic-athlete/. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

Bradley, David. "Why Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule is wrong." BBC, 14 Nov. 2012, www.bbc.com/future/story/20121114-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-myth. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

Coleman, Daniel. "Why The 10,000 Hour Rule Is A Myth." The Huffington Post, 7 Oct. 2013,www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/success-book_n_4059506.html. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

Ferro, Shaunacy. "Scientists Debunk The Myth That 10,000 Hours of Practice Makes You an Expert." Fast Co. Design, www.fastcodesign.com/3027564/scientists-debunk-the-myth-that-10000-hours-of-practice-makes-you-an-expert.

Hightower, Raymond T. "10,000 Hours of Practice." WisdomGroup, 2016,wisdomgroup.com/blog/10000-hours-of-practice/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

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