10,000 hours myth debunked (again?)

March 13, 2014

I’m just not so sure anymore. It seems like every couple of months, there’s a new study with a new conclusion on this “myth.”  I haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, but I have to wonder if he was really being so literal when he first proposed the 10,000 hour rule.

I think it’s safe to conclude that practice alone wouldn’t make perfect— perfect practice would. It’s safe to say that practice makes habit,and putting enough practice time into the wrong thing won’t make you better at the right thing. Perhaps I’m being biased by so hastily dismissing this study, but I’m still of the mindset that enough “hard work” can get people places. They conclude their study with the claim that the “majority of the reliable variance [is] unexplained and potentially explainable by other factors,” and that these factors are probably “personality, the age you started, intelligence, or something else entirely”—i.e., ultimately uncontrollable factors.

So if the majority of my talent is left up to uncontrollable factors, then I might as well maximize the factor that I can control: practice.

(Via NextDraft.)