Outliers - 10,000 Hours for Success
Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”, has a new book out titled “Outliers: The Story of Success”. “Outliers” are the high achievers, the best, the brightest, and the most successful people. Gladwell has some interesting theories on what it takes to become an outlier.
In “Outliers” Gladwell explains that in the early 1990’s psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and two colleagues conducted an experiment at Berlin’s “Academy of Music”. Basically, the school’s violinists were divided into three groups: the stars, the “good” performers, and those who were unlikely to ever play professionally and would probably become music teachers. They were all asked the same question: “Over the course of the years, ever since you picked up a violin, how many hours have you practiced?” (Source).
All of the violinists had started playing at around age five, and they all played about two or three hours a week during the first few years. However, around the age of eight, an important difference began to emerge in the amount of hours they each practiced. By age 20, the stars in the group had all totaled 10,000 hours of practice over the course of their lives; the “good” students had totaled 8,000 hours; and the future music teachers just over 4,000 hours.
What the research suggested was that once you have enough talent to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. In addition, other studies have also shown that excellence at a complex task requires a minimum level of practice, and experts have settled on 10,000 hours as the magic number for true expertise. This is true even of people we think of as prodigies, such as Mozart.