By Sebastien Thomas
The 10,000 Hour Rule
To collect a new dot, and also to not read another bloody advertising book, I’ve started reading “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein. The most important issue discussed in the book is the 10,000 hour rule. For those who don’t know about it, short synopsis: lots of research has been undertaken and a lot of academic studies have proved that those who have practiced their chosen domain (sport, music, entertainment etc.) for over 10,000 hours, have essentially mastered their area, and will be much stronger than someone who has not reached this level of practice.
This has influenced numerous sports cultures, with the Chinese athletics association as a major example. Kids of four or less are shipped off to sports specific boarding schools in order to achieve 10,000 hours of practice before they reach full adulthood. I guess it worked for them at the Beijing olympics. But you also have to start weighing up the value of gold medals vs. a childhood.
Anyway, Epstein begins to disprove this theory, giving the analogy that people are made up of both hardware (an innate understanding and talent) and software (an area which with practice can be made stronger). Essentially the age old debate of talent vs. ambition. He gives examples where in fields such as athletics, some extraordinary talents have won gold medals a few months after taking up the sport, beating some who have practiced the sport for over a decade.
But these examples are few and far between. They also don’t account for what I consider quite key. Lady luck. I’ve always believed that ambition wins hands down over talent. The next Messi is useless sitting on the couch. But luck is also vital, and that is something we can’t control.
I’ll reign in this argument and bring some relevance back to our current situation at SCA. Essentially some people write better than others. Some draw and have a better artistic eye than others. But without work, this is rendered useless. So unfortunately for you talented mugs out there, if you sit on your arse, you’ll be overtaken by someone with half the talent as you, wondering where the time went.
So whilst the 10,000 hours rule isn’t as concrete as once thought, that amount of practice won’t hurt.