Does it Really Only Take 10,000 Hours?
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book a while back that introduced us all to the concept of 10,000 hours. He said that to get really good at something or become an expert in your field you need to do it for 10,000 hours. The book became pretty well known and 10,000 hours is now thrown around like some kind of magic number.
Just the other day a friend of mine quoted it back to me - only she had a new twist. Lamenting that she hadn’t made it big yet, she said that she just needed her 10,000 hours of writing time in and then she would become a best seller. Wait what?
Look, I love Malcolm Gladwell! I’ve read all of his books, but I can tell you that I have been doing several things for well over 10,000 hours that I’m still really bad at. I’ve been a parent for over 10,000 hours and there are days that I suck at it. Just ask my kids, they’ll tell you loud and clear with a written list of all the things I’ve done wrong over the years. Cleaning the house, do I even need to say it? I’ve also been breathing for over 10,000 hours but that hasn’t stopped my yoga teacher from telling me I need to work on that too.
Oh! And I’ve been cooking for over 10,000 hours. Now let’s talk about my culinary skills for a second. A second is all it will take - they are non-existent. I’m talking bad bad bad. The first meal I made my husband broke out in flames under the broiler – who knew those coils would get so hot so quickly! And things have only gone downhill from there. My kids would rather cook themselves than eat my food, because as they have said repeatedly, “Mom, I just don’t like the taste of charcoal.”
I think what Malcolm was saying is that if SOME people do the RIGHT thing long enough, they will get better at it and if they get better at it, one day they might be an expert in their field. But these days there are some people out there running around thinking that something magical is going to happen at their 9,999th hour. Like what - a party, a plaque, an award?
I have been parenting for approximately 118,272 hours. A lot of that time I even had two of the darn things. My god! I should be a parenting God. No, a parenting Guru. Ha! I can’t even get my boys to flush the toilet regularly! (Is that a boy thing?)
I know Malcolm is a great writer and crafted a great argument, but I do think there are inherent flaws to it’s application in everyday life because just looking at the clock I have blown past 10,000 hours on several important life skills and well, no luck so far.