10,000 Hour Rule

“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”

– Malcolm Gladwell

How many hours will you take to reach the pinnacle of success in computer science, music, or even hockey? If you don’t know the way forward, you’re in the right place. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell address this question in-depth and propose thought-provoking answers. In coming up with answers, Gladwell debunks the prominent American or global viewpoints of success. The viewpoints state that success purely depends on one’s innate brilliance and efforts. Success requires more than the two components, and Gladwell presents compelling stories in his illustration.

Gladwell’s illustrations

In regard to Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis, success requires two things, opportunity, and determination. In other words, success needs an opportunity to prove yourself and fierce determination to take advantage of the presented opportunity. In his presentation, Malcolm interweaves stories about Jewish law firms, Canadian hockey players, the Beatles show, and Bill Gates to prove that opportunity to succeed comes in many ways.

The other aspects that facilitate one’s success are family heritage, birth date, personal contacts and geography. For instance, Malcolm shows that Gate’s success is all about being born in the right year, in the right state, going to the right school, and connecting with the right people.

However, even with the mentioned aspects, Bill Gates had all that is required to be the computer revolution’s pinnacle, but also many others had similar background and opportunity. So, what separated Bill Gates from other less successful computer experts who had a similar opportunity and background?

The answer is straightforward; the 10 000-hour rule. The success of Bill Gates lied on time utilization. The single-minded dedication to achieving a specific goal in life will make one thrive. In other words, if one is focused on attaining results, time should be used appropriately. But if an individual is a fence sitter, meaning he or she doesn’t know exactly what to do to get out of a situation or arrive at particular goals, lots of time is wasted.

All the examples of 10,000 hours rule imply that effort and opportunity are intertwined. They go hand in hand. Therefore, even with 10 000 hours without the right opportunities, the chances of succeeding amounts to zero. Opportunities will always open doors, but the recipient’s actions, implementations, and choices separate the pinnacle of success from moderate success.

Success vs. Legacy

In the second section of Outlier, Gladwell illustrates that traditions and attitudes that will inherit from our forefathers play a significant role when it comes to success. He further argues that even with plenty of availability of opportunities, one’s cultural legacy has enormous influence in success. Therefore, culture and performance are intertwined.

This implies that for the future success of the offspring, the parent should be successful. In other words, there should be a specific legacy for kids to compete against. This is a moral lesson that you should build your success while you’re alive for your kids. This means that your success does not only belong to you but also your generation. Work hard for the betterment of your entire generation. Have a legacy!

Points to take

The Outliers is one of the books that you should not miss in your library. It bases its argument on the time aspect. The 10 000-hour rule states that if time is spent well, then not only that the chances of success are high, but also, they are achievable. In terms of interpretation, you should not confine your arguments into the 10 000 hours timelines. All that the rule is saying is that one should spend time well. Time’s equivalent to money; stay on the course and be focused.

The other aspect is the legacy. They say, work hard for a better tomorrow. But tomorrow encompasses so many aspects. The aspects include good life, good food, good family, and extra. But the most important thing when it comes to tomorrow is the children or generation. Ensure that you are the benchmark for your upcoming generation. Let them see and appreciate your effort. This way, they will work hard to maintain the success culture or to defeat your success. What a rule!

Good books have been written on 10,000-hour rule. Some of them include: –

Ø 10,000 Hours: You Become What You Practice by Phyllis Lane and Rodrigo Coelho

  • Outliers: The story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Link for some learnings: –


Questions for reflection: –

How much time will it take for you to master a skill?

What’s your take on 10,000-hour rule?

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