Friday, February 12, 2010

10,000 Hours

I recently read Malcolm Galdwell's Outliers. In the first part of the book he discusses the reasons behind people's success, what truly helps them reach the outer limits of accomplishment. One contention he makes is that it takes 10,000 hours to become truly remarkable at something.
For example, Bill Gates had unprecedented access to computers at his posh Seattle school in 1968. This led to access to computers at the University of Washington, which led to access to more advanced computers, which led to Harvard. You know the rest. By the time Gates reached Harvard he had already been sitting at a computer somewhere everyday for 6+ hours a day for several years. 10,000 hours worth.

My daughter says she wants to play soccer in the Olympics before she goes to college. She is nine now and she has been playing since she was 4, but at her current trajectory she will not be anywhere near 10,000 hours by the time she is 18. A sobering thought. Just loving the sport is not enough.

This got me to thinking about other things, not just the Bill Gates and Mia Hamms of the world. Does it take 10,000 hours of working at it (sleeping doesn't count) to have a truly remarkable marriage? How about 10,000 hours of really trying to be a remarkable friend, neighbor, sister, person?

What about being a good writer. I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was 12, at least that is how old I was when I said it aloud. Have I reached my 10,000 hours thirty years later?
How about insanity? Has my mother reached new levels of craziness just because she has been working really hard at it for years? Has she reached her 10,000 hours?

Maybe I'm trying to apply this rule to accomplishments that don't reside beyond the boundaries of plain-Jane-everyday-life. But it makes you think.