Outliers. Gladwell uses The Beatles and Bill Gates as examples of working obsessively for years to achieve their success. While it is a nice round number, it is - like all pop culture solutions - as much fantasy as fiction. Indeed, psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, who came up with the whole idea to start with, has debunked Gladwell's rather simplistic application of this dubious rule.I understand the 10,000-hour "rule" came from Malcolm Gladwell and his book,
For one thing, The Beatles never came close to 10,000 hours. Gladwell claims they hit that magic number playing in clubs in Hamburg, Germany during the early 60's, and other clubs in Liverpool, England.
However, research shows that while they did eight-hour gigs for six or seven nights a week, they were often alternating their sets with another band - Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. Even if they had played seven days a week for eight hours a day, they weren't in Germany long enough to hit that magic 10,000 anyway.
Also, the guy who was their drummer during this mythical 10,000 hours, Pete Best, was fired for poor drumming! It seems just banging on drums for 10,000 hours didn't really do him any good. Plus, what happened to that other band playing opposite sets with The Beatles? Well, Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, who played as much or more than The Beatles faded into obscurity with one exception - their drummer, a guy named Richard Starkey who went by the stage name, Ringo Starr, often substituted for Pete Best with The Beatles, when Best didn't show up for gigs.
When Best was fired from The Beatles, they hired Ringo, and the rest was, and continues to be, history. It seems 10,000 hours of hard work (or 10,000 hours of work while on diet pills and other stimulants, which The Beatles often used in Germany) don't guarantee success. I'd lean toward the belief that quality of the use of time is a huge a measure of success, along with being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, and a generous helping of luck.
Many years ago, I worked for a period of time with Broadway actors. I can say that 95% of them were hardworking, dedicated, and disciplined individuals. The talent was oozing out of the walls. And yet, less than a handful went on to long-term careers.
Of the roughly 50 actors I worked with, I'd say less than five or six are still working - one was in Shawshank Redemption, one was in The Soprano's, one won a Tony Award (yes this is shameless passive aggressive almost-but-not-quite namedropping) but that's it. Talent and skill are only part of the equation. Alas, like it or not, that's show biz.
Personally, I'll never hit 10,000 hours. It's just not in the cards for me. I started this entire violin life just 2 1/4 years ago when I was about to turn 68. and now I'm 70. It ain't gonna happen, but I don't really care. I'm just enjoying the ride. I suggest focusing less on the end of the numbers game, and simply enjoy the journey.
As George Harrison said once, "When we were in Germany we really a tight band and we were amazing. We really had something we've never had since." Only one rather poor recording remains from those days. So don't look for the mythical 10,000 hours as a magical end to your mystery tour. Enjoy and work hard in each individual hour. Feel the frustrations, the triumphs, the ups and the downs. That's what's really important.
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