Malcolm Gladwell popularized the research of K. Anders Ericsson, who discovered that world-class experts spend more than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice developing their skills.
There have been all sorts of dissenters to the principle. Many people point out exceptions to the rule with examples of masters who have developed mastery in less than 10,000 hours. Others, including Ericsson himself, points out a distinction between deliberate practice, which is characterized by the focus on specific skills with constant constructive feedback, compared to a misunderstanding that you just to put practice time in.
That’s not what bothers me the most about people’s perception of the 10,000 Rule.
Here is what I see as the most misunderstood part of this principle:
You don’t have to practice for 10,000 hours to make an impact with your art.
Should you work diligently to master your craft? Absolutely.
Should you hide your work for years until you reach 10,000 hours of practice with a master status? Absolutely not.
When you first start out in any field, with very few hours of deliberate practice and limited skills, your zone of impact is very small.
My children, for example, are learning to play instruments. Just last week our second daughter took her first piano lesson. After the first day of piano, my wife and I were very impressed by what our daughter had learned. Not many others, though, would be emotionally moved by her performance. But, with hours of practice, she will be able to make an impact on a larger audience of people in various opportunities to perform.
Will she wait 10,000 hours to show off her skills? No, of course not. She will be able to make an impact long before she reaches her master status.
We already have the skills to make an impact on people. Sure, we need to practice and improve those skills, but we don’t need to hide them. We can make an impact right now by sharing what we are learning and getting our art out there.