Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 10,000-Hour Rule

My first-ever diary entry was about my cat, Smokey. I wrote: "I love my cat."

Some things never change. :)


The upstate's local GLBT pride event was Saturday in Spartanburg. I announced it on my radio show as being on "Saturday"--totally spacing the fact that I was taping the show (on Thursday) and therefore my announcement would be HEARD on Saturday, so I should have said the event was "today"--right? Argh! (Link to the show here)

This is the kind of dumb error that makes me want to scream when I hear the show replayed, and why I sometimes refuse to listen to more than a few minutes.

Obviously, I am still relatively new to the radio biz.

My talented producer and consigliere, Gregg Jocoy, has repeatedly reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell's famous '10,000-hour rule': One can only master a skill after doing it for 10,000 hours.

We have done about 55 radio shows so far, so we only have 9945 hours to go.

Brian Clark Howard writes:

One of the most interesting parts of Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic book Outliers is his discussion of the “10,000-hour rule,” which posits that it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill, be it playing the violin, computer programming, or skateboarding.

Gladwell covers several tantalizing examples, from the Beatles to Bill Gates, and argues that the biggest factor in their success is not innate talent or blind luck, but rather dedication to their chosen craft. It’s an empowering message, and one that suggests that almost anyone can succeed if they put in the time (could those saccharine posters be right?).

Of course, privilege and luck can greatly ease the way, but there’s little substitute for 10,000 hours of work.

This infographic, created for the blog Zintro by Nowsourcing, takes a closer look at practice and the 10,000-hour rule.

Of course, as Kurt Cobain said, “Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?”
As usual, Kurt had a point.

However, doing some quick math... I realize this may be good news for me. I first started writing in a diary when I was about six years old (photo of six-year-old self, above) and that means if I wrote approx 204 hours a year (which rounds out to about 17 hours a month), from then until now, I am very close to the 10,000-hour mark. The Promised Land awaits!

Unfortunately, I never kept track of that. I do know that some years I wrote passionately and obsessively for many hours a day, every day... and some years I didn't write at all. (I guess even feverish, teenybopper letter-writing about David Cassidy counts?)

I am not sure if it all evens out, but the hours do add up, after decades.

In any event, I must be getting close! One of those unexpectedly-positive things that comes from aging.


D. said...

I'm getting better at Sudoku...

JoJo said...

Great post! 10,000 hours eh?

Conseglieri said...

I noticed the "Saturday" instead of "today" reference while I was editing the show. I have much more respect for editing now that I have had to learn how to do it. And I am no where close to 10,000 hours of doing that for sure.

While I am not sure that 10,000 is a magic number, I am persuaded that practice improves whatever it is you are practicing.

thene said...

Two coincidences; my first cat was called Smokey, and I was thinking about this lately! Mostly because I tumbled into one of those obsessive depths of words as happens sometimes, only it lasted about four times as long as it's ever done so before, and I wondered if it was a sign of genuine, permanent progress or just another obsession.

Do line-edits count? One catch when it comes to writing, I think, is that one can measurably improve while not doing it. I've taken breaks and come back much better, simply because language is never idle; reading, listening, speaking, being alive, it all makes that muscle grow.