In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers,he coined the term “the 10,000-Hour Rule” in which he explained that to become an expert in almost any field requires 10,000 hours of practice. Gladwell provided examples such as the Beetles, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, and others whom after practicing for 10,000 hours became experts in their fields. The rule was appealing due to its simple cause-and-effect relationship
The original idea is the work of psychologist Anders Ericsson, who published a paper in 1993 in which he and his colleagues reported on their studies of 40 violinists in Germany who had put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice by the age of 20.
Unfortunately, Mr. Ericsson says that Malcolm Gladwell got it wrong and oversimplified the concept. He says that there is nothing special about 10,000 hours, which was just a nice round number. According to Ericsson, the actual number of hours required to become an expert varies depending on which field you are in.
However, Gladwell did point out an important point: Becoming accomplished or an expert in any field requires a lot of effort and hours of what Mr. Ericsson calls deliberate practice. It may not be 10,000 hours, but it does take a lot.
This brings me to the point: We become good at what we practice, whether it’s positive or negative. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing about distraction, so let me give you the bad news. If you practice distraction on a daily basis (and you know there are many opportunities available to do so), you will become very good at it. The law of practice is that we become good at whatever we practice. (For more on this, read Gladwell’s book or the research in Dr. Ericsson’s book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.)
It’s time to be honest with yourself, because dishonesty only hurts you. Are you becoming an expert in distraction? If so, it is getting in the way of your productivity, which is having a direct effect on your level of success. To be highly productive, you must eliminate distractions.
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