Executive coaching, Gladwell, Leadership

10000 hours of training makes you a « master”?

Linkedin MASTER 100000

According to psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and journalist Malcolm Gladwell, success is within each one of all of us. Through tenacity and diligence, without forgetting the ability to identify our talents.

In 1990, the psychologist K. Anders of Swedish origin Ericsson develops the theory of 10,000 hours: a level of excellence in a discipline, an art or technique requires a long term work. A « time » which is now encrypted.

In 2008, journalist Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker, examines the key to success in his bestseller Outliers, The Story of Success, it then returns largely the study by the psychologist. The adage « Success is a talented drop in an ocean of work », we move to the stage of theory validated by experience.

A new golden rule, 10000 hours of training makes you a « master »

Starting by this interrogation, « Is Innate talent exists? » Anders Ericsson and two colleagues from the Academy of Music in Berlin got interested to the practice of violinists divided into three groups: future international soloists, those with a good level and future music teachers.

While all started playing at 5 years, the first group greatly increases the number of hours devoted to his musical practice from the age of 8 years, reaching 16 hours per week to 14 years and more than 30 hours per week from 20 years.

Result: at this age, the first group totaled 10,000 hours of practice, the second 8000 and the third, barely 4000. The psychologist then expanded the investigation to professional and amateur pianists, with similar conclusions. The neurologist Dr. Levitin confirms: « Let the studies focus on basketball, novelists, skaters, chess players or criminals masters, the number of 10,000 hours keeps coming. »

Two spectacular examples: Bill Gates and the Beatles

The analysis of the course of personalities to the resounding success put forward by Gladwell reinforces the finding of Anders Ericsson. Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a teenager had the chance to follow this program: for seven months, he passed 1575 hours on the computer, about 8 hours a day, 7 days 7. However, to take full advantage of this opportunity, He made the effort to get up at night and reach on foot or by bus from Washington University, and accessing to computers « non-reserved » between 3 and 6 am.

As for the Beatles, they become a legend because the four boys in the wind did 270 shows in two years, before recording their first disc! They had already given more shows that the majority of the time groups, even the best known.

Is it enough to practice the same activity for a given period of time, to be successful?10,000 hours of practice, represent 10 years of work at 20 hours per week or 5 years full time. But success is far from assured if we just simply do the same thing mechanically.

The notion of expertise involves the use of a fair analysis and the ability to adapt to complex situations by learning prior successes and failures – but also the ability to dialogue, questioning and look for Excellency.

Follow the natural abilities and always seek advices

To achieve this, it is essential to clearly identify with humility our natural abilities. Before embarking on a sustained effort, intense and daily, it is preferable to measure it the most objective and realistic as possible, the analogies between his « gifts » and the chosen field of exercise. It may be wise to note its fulfillment times and to identify common threads, or seek advice from a caring person, a mentor or professional coach; it’s very rare to have the full consciousness of our own talents. Once these defined, it’s up to us to determine the maximum daily exercise that can develop our self-confidence: while we gain in performance and wellbeing.

The rule of 10,000 hours, « moderate » but confirmed

In 2014, the press conveys a study by Princeton University, the University Michigan State and that of Rice, « contradict » the theory popularized by the journalist Gladwell. In reality, the director of the investigation, Brooke McNamara says itself that there is « no doubt that the deliberate practice is important, both statistical and theoretical point of view. » The impact is only slightly less therefore announced; the results are valid in sectors as diverse as finance or psychiatry. Having confirmed this « rule », scientists now want to know the other factors determining the success – memory and the age at which you start an activity, being at the heart of their research.

10,000 hours of theory, combines logical approach, thorough, systematic review and principles of personal development: its implementation can produce uncommon results. While we do not all aspire to become « absolute masters ». However, the high degree of control is a commonly desired quality as well as personal fulfillment.

All rights reserved to Maxime Coignard©

Professional coach 

ICF Member & Graduated from an MBA Executive at HEC Paris



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