“Wow! I have done 156 hours performing…now only 9,844 to go”

In popular psychology, which I am an avid reader of, there has been a myth flying round that to be great at something you must put in 10,000 hours of practise. Whether it is in your business, sport, career, music or study, you can stop counting.

Now although this idea was mostly in the realms of sport, it has spilled over and been adopted by other psychologists and guru’s and placed into such things as speaking, coaching, becoming a guru yourself and even just to become “Successful”.

This misleading myth was made more popular by Malcolm Gladwell in his marvelous book, Outliers.

Now I always doubted this myth. I mean 10,000 hours before you can be classed as an expert or a top performer? I especially doubted it when I began my speaking, workshops and seminars. I didn’t want to have to spend 10,000 hours before I became an expert at what I did!

But that was (And still is) the myth being thrown around out there. Anyone can become great at anything…all you have to do is put in 10,000 hours!

I mean that’s a lot of flipping hours. How daunting is it too? If you are (Or just recently have) just setting out on a new career and you want to become a speaker or a coach for example, 10,000 hours is a lot of gigs and tons of clients to see!

It’s enough to stop people dead in their tracks.

The Myth of 10,000 Hours Debunked

The myth originates from research by a psychologist called Anders Erickson. Yet he never actually said anybody needs to do 10,000 hours before they are an expert or the best performer, according to an article in The British Psychological Society.

New research actually shows that practice only accounts for 1% of performance at elite level. Brooke McNamara and her colleagues have found that other factors determine who performs best.

“….as well as complex psychological factors, such as their personality and confidence. Also, competition experience and time spent in play activities might also be relevant,” (Emphasis added)

You can read the full article here

Did you see, that? Confidence and personality are determining factors. I would also propose that the other personality factors will be such traits as, passion, enthusiasm, determination, the right habits etc.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is wonderful news. No need for the 10,000 hours before I am an expert.

I think this 10,000 myth has harmed many people. It can be read as, “I won’t be successful until I have put in 10,000 hours” This can be too daunting for a lot of people and prevent them from trying.

I doubted this myth of 10,000 hours when I read it a few years ago because of an example in my own life. When I was asked to do group sales presentations, I hadn’t spoken to a crowd in my life before. Yet in just a matter of weeks I was achieving the 2nd highest closing ratios the company had ever seen.

I had put in about 40 hours or so.

I was highly confident in my ability, I believed in myself fully and I was passionate about what I was doing. Of course with practice I got better and so will you. The research isn’t saying practice isn’t needed or relevant.

It is just adding more weight to the debunking of the myth that you must put in 10,000 hours to become successful. You don’t.

So if you are just starting out in a new field and you have read this, you no longer have to put in the 10,000 hours before you become an expert. And I don’t know about you, but I found this news to be a game changer.

But do keep practising your art. And make sure you put in enough mental practice too.