The 10,000 Hour Rule of Success

What do Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, the Venus sisters and the Beatles have in common aside from achieving greatness in their professions? Is it innate talent, passion for their chosen fields, luck or simply hard work?

What are the rules for success?

In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell attributed success as the result of 10,000 hours of training. According to Gladwell, if you study, practice and do something for 10,000 hours; you will excel in that particular field. The world’s most successful people spent years of intense focus and training on their area of expertise.

Gladwell cited a few examples to illustrate his point:

Violinists in Berlin

In a paper written by Anders Ericsson, a University of Colorado professor on the Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance, it is said that the world class violinists or the elite performers have an average of 10,000 hours of practice compared to the regular performers who have a practice time of about 4,000 hours only.


Surprisingly, no naturally gifted talents emerged in the study. Although the innate ability helped them in the early years, the subsequent level of excellency was highly dependent on the amount of accumulated practice. What was once taught to be innate talent was actually a result of intense and deliberate practice.

The Beatles

In 1960, an unknown high school rock band went to Hamburg, Germany to play in local pubs. There the band played an average of eight hours per day seven days a week in front of rowdy bar crowds and unpredictable audiences. By the time the band debuted in the international scene in 1964, they had already performed about 1,200 performances together.

The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany

Source:  The Rutherford Institute

The hours and hours of practice that they did during those four years in Hamburg honed both their musical and songwriting skills. By the end of the sixties, the Beatles had taken the world by storm with a series of hit singles and best-selling albums making them the greatest band in the history of music.

Bill Gates 

If you think that Bill Gates’ story is as simple as dropping out of college, starting a company and becoming an instant billionaire, think again. His interest on computer programming started at the age of 13. He was then a student at Lakeside school, Seattle’s most exclusive prep school for boys. Studies reveal that Bill Gates actually sneaked into the school terminal to practice programming every night.  During that time in 1968, a computer terminal was very rare. When he met Paul Allen in his teenage years, the two were already addicted to programming.

Source :  PC Mag

By the time Microsoft was launched, the two were ready. The thousands of hours spent studying programming paid off and catapulted Bill Gates to become the richest man on earth.

No Shortcut

Successful people got to where they are because of the number of hours they have spent improving their craft. There was no shortcut. It has taken them a lot of hard work and determination. It takes passion, willpower and dedication . These people were able to do it because they love what they are doing.

If you want to be great at something, you need to allot 10,000 hours of learning and doing it to develop expertise in your chosen field. Start by allocating an extra hour each day to improve your craft.

If you spend one extra hour each day in your chosen field, you will be a national expert in that field in five years or less. – Earl Nightingale

Find your passion and and you won’t have a problem clocking in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in that area.

Good luck!

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