“Outliers: The Story of Success” is a new book by Malcolm Gladwell. “Outlier” is a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from others of the sample. In his new book Gladwell investigates the idea of exceptional people, prodigies, genious and precocity. How are masterpieces made? What is talent? What is a prodigy? What does it take to achieve success? Is it hard work and good timing? Is it the right environment and supportive network?
This idea – that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice – surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.
“In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”
So this means that if I start writing my novel now, and devote 3 hours a day to it in 9-10 years I will have put in my 10,000 hours and yes, it is going to be a masterpiece. I’m glad I have worked everything out and I’m glad there’s still hope…