Oh shoot, it takes 10,000 hours??

You’ve most likely heard someone say that it takes 10,000 hours to truly become a master at something.

Of course there is truth to this – to master something, to me, means that you can do it without even thinking. In other words, you’ve practiced to the point that it just comes naturally to you. That’s what you had to do to learn how to walk! Practice, practice!

It can seem like a huge journey. I remember riding around one day and musing over this 10,000 hour rule. “Man, that’s a lot of hours!” Doing the math in my head of how many years I would have to ride to become a master made me so dizzy I almost fell off my horse!

But a saying from Pat Parelli always brought me back: “Practice doesn’t make perfect – only perfect practice makes perfect.” Of course, nothing is perfect. Especially in the beginning. I think what Pat means by that, is you won’t become a master in 10,000 hours if you are practicing wrong. It takes practice, focus, correctness and the ability to change for the better (even if you only have 200 hours to go to becoming a true master! It’s never too late to change!).

Then today I read this quote by Daniel Goleman from this article from BrainPickings:

“The “10,000-hour rule” — that this level of practice holds the secret to great success in any field — has become sacrosanct gospel, echoed on websites and recited as litany in high-performance workshops. The problem: it’s only half true. If you are a duffer at golf, say, and make the same mistakes every time you try a certain swing or putt, 10,000 hours of practicing that error will not improve your game. You’ll still be a duffer, albeit an older one.

No less an expert than Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the 10,000-hour rule of thumb, told me, “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”

“You have to tweak the system by pushing,” he adds, “allowing for more errors at first as you increase your limits.”

So it’s not necessarily the repetition of practice that helps us master something, but the repetition of changing and improving what we practice that helps us achieve our goal.

Okay, now I gotta hurry out of the house to practice!!

Unknown photographer I own no rights to this photo.

Photo by Caity Bird
I own no rights to this photo.


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