One of the most interesting parts of Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic book Outliers is his discussion of the “10,000-hour rule,” which posits that it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill, be it playing the violin, computer programming, or skateboarding.
Gladwell covers several tantalizing examples, from the Beatles to Bill Gates, and argues that the biggest factor in their success is not innate talent or blind luck, but rather dedication to their chosen craft. It’s an empowering message, and one that suggests that almost anyone can succeed if they put in the time (could those saccharine posters be right?).
Of course, privilege and luck can greatly ease the way, but there’s little substitute for 10,000 hours of work.
Of course, as Kurt Cobain said, “Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?”
Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, Miller-McCune and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVAC, Green Lighting, Build Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.