Why You Need to Practice 10,000 Hours
And how you can get started today
In his book, “Outliers: The Story of Success,” sociologist Malcolm Gladwell proposes, among many things, something he refers to as the 10,000 hour rule. Essentially, it is the tipping point where, after 10,000 hours of practicing something, you are usually an expert in said activity.
It sounds like a daunting amount, but if you think about it mathematically, it’s actually very manageable. If you stay in the same field, you’ll probably accomplish it almost by accident. Here’s what Gladwell said in a recent interview:
One of the most significant factors is what scientists call the "10,000-hour rule." When we look at any kind of cognitively complex field -- for example, playing chess, writing fiction or being a neurosurgeon -- we find that you are unlikely to master it unless you have practiced for 10,000 hours. That’s 20 hours a week for 10 years. The brain takes that long to assimilate all it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
Find Your Focus 确定目标，聚精会神
Your specific task may not be something that’s terribly specific. In this book, Gladwell cites Bill Gates as an example saying that his unique access to a computer capable of programming at a young age when many other people did not have that access allowed him to accumulate his 10,000 hours of practice as well as differentiate himself from any competition he might have. Gladwell himself accumulated his practice at writing while working at The American Spectator and The Washington Post writing stories that, at least initially, weren’t like the books that are his hallmarks of success. So, find out what it is that you want to be practicing. If you’ve got a boring office job, focus on your managerial skills in the hopes that one day you’ll be managing something you care about. If you’re working in a shipping company and want to be a graphic designer, focus on the packaging and the different branding on all the packages coming through. Point is: no matter where you are, you can still focus on the thing you need to be practicing.
你想要完成的某项任务可能并不那么具体。格兰威尔在他的书中举了比尔·盖茨的例子，认为当其他人没有意识到计算机编程的前景时，他年纪轻轻就成为了第一个吃螃蟹的人，这令其能够在积累他的10000小时练习的同时，在潜在竞争对手中崭露头角。而格兰威尔自己则利用在《美国观察》（The American Spectator）和《华盛顿邮报》（The Washington Post）工作期间积累起了写作的实践经验，尽管初始并未写出他标志性的成功作品。所以，首先应该搞明白什么是你想要践行的。如果你正在从事一件无聊的办公室工作，就满怀希望地把精力集中在管理技能的训练上，以便在将来某时能够顺利管理某项事业。如果你在一家航运公司工作而想要成为一名平面设计师，就集中于产品包装和经手往来的不同品牌的包装。要诀在于：不论你身处何处，你都能把精力集中在你需要进行训练的事务上。
Practice Every Day 坚持训练，持之以恒
Though you can certainly get some practice out of mundane or otherwise uninteresting tasks, you should devote some time specifically to that thing which you want to master every day. You don’t have to be as extreme as, say, Charles Bukowski who would often forgo gainful employment (or sobriety) in order to write his poetry, but you should set aside some time every single day for your craft. Novelist James Scott Bell uses a technique called “the nifty 350” to accomplish this. No matter what, every day, no matter if he’s sick or it’s raining or he’s hungover or whatever, he writes 350 words in the morning. Often this will lead him to write more, but no matter what, he commits to putting 350 words – even if they’re not good ones – down on paper. Develop this habit for your own passion and your journey of 10,000 hours will be taken down little by little.
Make your own luck 勤加练习，好运自来
One of the best parts about the 10,000 hour rule is that it doesn’t have anything to do with luck, and it doesn’t have anything to do with age. You can start your 10,000 whenever you want and accomplish them over however long you desire. Gladwell argues that by doing it you’ll make your own luck by creating “a steady accumulation of advantages.” Circumstance has something to do with it – Bill Gates was the right age to ride the wave of personal computing. But, again, Gladwell says even if the timing was off, Gates would still be “a highly intelligent, driven, charming person and a successful professional.”