During this week’s episode of Alcatraz, Sam Neill’s character mentions to Dr. Soto (Hurley) that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert on something. This is not the first time I have heard this statement. Is it true? Where did it come from? Is this another one of those “humans only use 10% of their brain’s” myths?
Anyways, I decided to do some research type “10,000 hour rule” into Google. Apparently the idea comes from some psychologist (naturally he is Swedish, and this where you ask yourself “what does Josh have against the Swedes?”) and I am guessing that if you read his original work on the matter, he is very specific and probably even says what I am about to say…but, who cares about that, this seems like something that I should mock.
The reason that it is a popular idea is because of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, where he talks about people who have become super great because of putting the time and effort into their field. He uses Bill Gates as an example. That one makes sense to me. The one that does not make sense is The Beatles. I honestly do not believe it was the fact that they practiced for over 10,000 hours in Germany is what made them huge music stars.
Look, hard work is a huge part of success. And the idea that if you put 10,000 hours of working in your own field, you will become an expert at it is probably true (especially if you break it down to something simple): for example, if you are a barista (spell-check says this is not a word) at a coffee shop and you work there long enough to achieve the 10,000 hours (at 40 hours a week, at 50 weeks per year it would take 5 years), then you will most likely have mastered the art of making a soy latte.
Does this apply to everything in life though? I want to become a master in the field of bench-pressing a car. I will spend 10,000 hours trying to lift a car and at the end of all that hard work, still will not be able to lift a fucking car! Hell, I could go about it two different ways: I could go to a gym and work out everyday, just doing different bench-press exercises. And at the end of the time, I could still not bench 2000 pounds. Or what if I lay underneath my car everyday for 8 hours, pushing as hard as I can on my car…will it ever actually move? Absolutely not. I do not recommend trying this.
I have decided that I am going to practice for 10,000 years on trying to win the slam-dunk contest…well, I think you get the point.
Okay, maybe physical things do not actually work. What about the piano? I bet I could be pretty damn good at playing the piano if I practiced for 10,000 hours. Yeah, I could play the piano, but could I actually compose a great piece of music? Doubtful.
So these are the things that Alcatraz causes me to spend time thinking about? Definitely a keeper…