10,000 Hours to Become and Expert?

It’s been all over the place lately. I know it’s not a new theory by any means, but I’ve been hearing this “10,000 hour rule” for over a week, and I’m curious to know what all of you think about it?

For me, it does make sense in some ways. Not entirely, but in ways. I don’t believe that anyone could become an expert in a field after 10,000 hours of practice for something that they do not enjoy or have no natural talent in. Be it writing, art, playing a certain instrument, sports, what have you. If you have no talent or interest in that subject, I don’t think it matters how much you practice. Do I think it’s a waste to spend 10,000 hours practicing something you don’t enjoy? Absolutely. Do I think it’s impossible to become amazing at something you were absolutely terrible at if you spend that much time working at it? No. I do believe it’s possible to get very good at something with that much practice. But I’m not sure I’m convinced that you can become an expert in that field.

Experts spend much more than 10,000 hours perfecting their craft. I am guilty of not hitting that 10,000 hour mark yet for my writing, but it’s something I’ve been passionate about for years, and I’ve been working very hard at getting better even if I haven’t spent as much time as some others. I have surpassed that mark for my art, and I’m nowhere near where I want to be, whether people like my work or not. I like to think that my writing is exponentially better than it was ten years ago, even if I hadn’t been working diligently on it until the last two of those years. That’s not to say I don’t need plenty more improvement and maybe a few published books under my belt before I can claim to even be good at what I do, but I know I’ve improved.

So is that goal really realistic? As creatives, we are always working to get better. We know that there is always room for improvement, not matter how good anyone thinks we are at what we do. There is always something we can do better, something we don’t have as much experience or practice in as we’d like.

I think expert is a more fluid term than most believe. Someone who is completely ignorant on a subject might consider someone who has done minimal research or had only a little experience to be an expert simply because that person seems to know so much. That same person who may come off as an expert to some may also be a complete novice to others who know even more than that person does. To give you an example, a child in kindergarten would consider a child in middle school to be an expert in language, but a graduating teen would think the child in middle school knows only the basics in that same subject.

So who is to say when anyone becomes a real expert in anything? I have had plenty of my friends call me an expert or other things of the like when it comes to my art, but I know I am nowhere near the standards of other artists out there. I am not blind to my improvements. Not in the slightest. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but I know I still need a lot of work to get to where i want to be in my skill. And when I do get to that point, I will probably already have another goal in mind. In other words, I will never really be as good as I want, nor will I ever consider myself an expert.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it’s possible to become an expert in something you’ve never done just by spending a set amount of time working at it, or do you believe that in order to really succeed, you have to have some form of talent to help you in that field?

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2 thoughts on “10,000 Hours to Become and Expert?

  1. monicast says:

    I am right there with you. I believe anyone can do anything with enough practice, but they have to be passionate about it. However, I am the same as you, as I will never call myself an expert at anything. I think it’s easy to see your own faults in certain areas, but it’s also nice sometimes to step back and allow others to admire your work. To someone, you will always be an expert even if you never say it yourself. I agree that expert is a very fluid word, but that’s what makes it complicated and fascinating.

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