How to get your 10,000 hours in quickly and effectively

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any given skill. 10,000 hours is a lot. In the video, I illustrate 10,000 hours in term of a stack of pennies. If you stacked 10,000 pennies on top of each other, how tall would that stack be?

The answer is 50 feet tall. If you placed one penny in a stack every time you completed one hour of practice, you would achieve mastery when the stack reached 50 ft. tall.

How long will it take you to achieve mastery? Well, if you practiced two hours a day, every day, it would take 14 years.

I think we all agree that 10,000 hours is a lot of time. Let’s talk about how to get this time in as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

First, practice every day. There is a lot of power in daily practice. Every day you miss delays the completion of your 10,000 hours.

You spend a lot of your time working, so practice at work. I’m talking about doing a job that allows you to use the skill that you are mastering. That way, some of your work time counts towards the 10,000 hours. A lot of job duties are flexible. Find a way to align your job duties with the skill you desire to master. If it proves impossible to do so, and you value mastery, I would recommend looking for another job.

Finally, work hard, but work smart. Only the highest quality practice counts towards the 10,000 hours. In some cases, you can actually undo your hard work by practicing ineffectively. That’s like taking pennies out of the stack. You worked so hard to put them there in the first place, so why undermine your efforts?

The benefits of mastery only come to those who are persistent in their practice efforts. Practice hard and smart, and follow my tips to reach mastery as quickly as possible.


by Sean Maness, CHP
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