The Ten Year Rule, Fact Or Fiction

If you read my review of the book Never Too Late To Be Great, you would have seen mentioned the Ten Year Rule. As someone who switched careers from graphic design to writing and publishing via a stint as a jewellery designer, I find the Ten Year Rule fascinating. The theory being that it takes ten years, equating to 10,000 hours for someone to master their craft and then become an¬†expert in it. The theory was the result of research by John Hayes a Carnegie Mellon University Professor and later by others including Professor K. Anders Ericsson. There are various arguments for and against the Ten Year Rule¬†not least that the ten year period is subjective and that the actual time taken can vary according to the individual person. However one thing the above-mentioned professors and most critics agree on is that the Ten Year Rule is not solely responsible for a person becoming top of their field; there is also the need for what is called ‘deliberate practice’.

The Ten Year Rule is just a benchmark and is meaningless if you don’t put in the time required to master your craft. The level of your success is determined by how you maximise the hours available over, and even after that period. Meaning that spending a few hours a week working on your craft over the ten years versus 8 hours a day every day over the same period will yield different results.

In other words don’t spend ten years half heartedly working on your craft and then expect success as soon as the time is up, you also need to have what I can only describe as a fanatical commitment to excelling at your craft. This is a characteristic that defines most of the great athletes, superstars, scientists, surgeons, artists, innovators and business people at the top of their fields. Industry leaders who continuously push themselves to do the things that would break the resolve of the ordinary man or woman. And when you read about the sacrifices made, the strict work ethics from morning routines to the constant learning that they continue to abide by long after they have reached the top, it can be hard not to wonder if you have what it takes to achieve the same. But as the greats show it is not impossible, it just takes commitment.

You can read more about the Ten Year Rule and deliberate practice in a blog post by writer, James Clear over on Buffer Social:

What do you think of the Ten Year Rule? Do you think is holds weight? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

– Tapiwa

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