Business Insider: New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule, by Drake Baer:
The 10,000 Hour Rule — closely associated with pop psych writer Malcolm Gladwell — may not be much of a rule at all.
The principle holds that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field. When psychologists talk about deliberate practice, they mean practicing in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible.
In Outliers, Gladwell contends that early access to getting 10,000 hours of practice allowed the Beatles to become the greatest band in history (thanks to playing all-night shows in Hamburg) and Bill Gates to become one of the richest dudes around (thanks to using a computer since his teen years).
But a new Princeton study [Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis] tears that theory down. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, the researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains. What's really surprising is how much it depends on the domain:
- In games, practice made for a 26% difference
- In music, it was a 21% difference
- In sports, an 18% difference
- In education, a 4% difference
- In professions, just a 1% difference
The best explanation of the domain dependency is probably found in Frans Johansson's book The Click Moment.
In it, Johansson argues that deliberate practice is only a predictor of success in fields that have super stable structures. For example, in tennis, chess, and classical music, the rules never change, so you can study up to become the best.
But in less stable fields, like entrepreneurship and rock and roll, rules can go out the window:
- Richard Branson started in the record business but quickly branched out into fields well beyond music: Virgin Group has 400 companies and is launching people into space.
- Then there's a band like the Sex Pistols, who took the world by storm even though Sid Vicious could barely play his bass.
So mastery is more than a matter of practice.
- BBC, Why Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule Is Wrong
- British Psychology Society, 10,000 Hours Does Not Guarantee Greatness
- The Economist, Practice May Not Make Perfect
- Forbes, The Shortcut to the 10,000 Hour Rule
- Intelligence, Deliberate Practice: Is That All It Takes to Become an Expert?
- New York Magazine, Practice May Not Be As Important As People Think
- New York Times, The Limits of Practice
- New Yorker, Complexity and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule, by Malcom Gladwell
- Outside, How Athletes Get Great: Just Train for 10,000 Hours, Right? Not Quite.
- Science 2.0, Genetics Matter: Sorry, Malcolm Gladwell, You Will Not Be Usain Bolt No Matter How Hard You Practice
- Time, 10,000 Hours May Not Make a Master After All
- Vox, Life Isn't Fair: The People Who Practice the Most Aren't the Most Successful
- Washington Post, Malcolm Gladwell and 10,000 hours: What Does the Writer Mean?