The 10,000 Hours Rule is Not a Rule at All

Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule is a sham. A big fat sham.

According to Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours to become “really good” at something. To put that into perspective, let’s crunch some numbers.

10,000 hours is around 417 days. Not reasonable to accomplish this 10,000-hour goal.

If you practiced a skill for two hours a day, it would take around 14 years to reach 10,000 hours. Every single day. And that’s just to get good at something.

Working five days a week for eight hours a day, you would still need to work full time for nearly five years to get good. According to Gladwell, you would need to be a full-time job for five years to get good at it.


First off let’s talk quality versus quantity. If we’re going to strictly follow the 10,000-hour rule that gets tossed around so much, who cares how much actual effort I’m putting into those hours. Just the act of doing is enough to become really good.

Tossing a football in the backyard is not the same as running quarterback drills.

Running notional tactics drills is not the same as kicking in doors in a MOUT town.

Second, as it turns out, 10,000 hours is an average. Some people take 25,000 hours to get good at something.

Those people should have probably invested in a skill more up their alley.

Other people can get good at something in a few weeks.

So how do you get good?

Jump in.

Don’t be a scrub and try to read every book on a subject before trying it. If you have absolutely no idea how to play the harmonica, sure, go ahead and do a bit of research.

Don’t confuse research with progress.

The only way you’re going to get good is by picking up a harmonica and bring that to your crusty lips while watching a tutorial video and get to playing. You’re going to suck, but everyone does when they start.

Actually practice.

When I started my website, I had very little practice creating a website. I’ve done websites for my pen names in the past. I created this website. Not very difficult: get hosting, buy a domain, install WordPress, install theme. There you have a website.

So I did that for my profit website. Good, the basics are done.

Then I had to learn about how to rank for keywords, competition, content creation, etc. etc. etc. The difference between me and other people is I do what I can do until I run into a problem, then look up that problem. I don’t try to learn everything I can without taking any sort of action as I learn.

Frustration sucks, but the relief when you finally realize that your tags were fucked up and you can go throw your hands up and say “well duh” outweighs it.

get good at anything

There are hurdles and milestones.

The first book I wrote made $7 in the past 2 years. Learning everything that goes into marketing your own books is overwhelming. But every time I hit publish, I learned more and more.

It takes a while to go from knowing nothing to knowing the basics, and the basics can get you anywhere.

Teach as you go.

So, back in January, I decided to start my first for-profit website. I learned what I could about SEO, content creation, product creation, and all kinds of stuff needed to drive traffic and make money from that website. I’m by no means a professional, but I know more than the average person. So what am I doing now?

As I continue to learn about all the things that go into creating a great website, I’m teaching the homie, Josh, what I know. This is how you do X. This is how you do Y. Here are the tools I use when I’m stuck and you can use them too. Am I an expert? No. Will I ever be? No. But I’ll know enough to succeed and get others to a point to succeed.

Not only does that reinforce what I already know, it also reinforces my belief in myself that I am making progress.

Receive feedback.

This is going to get repetitive, but since I’m actively learning about creating that website, that’s my example. How am I receiving feedback, knowing I’m making progress?

Getting over 2,000 visitors to my site organically after 4 months.wordpress site stats

That is a surefire way to receive feedback on if I’m making some knowledge gains. Not only am I seeing progress on my current website, I can also go back and see what kind of nonsense I was doing years ago.

If you’re doing something that doesn’t provide immediate feedback, find people that can give you feedback. That can be either joining a private group of people that are doing the same things as you or going public with it.

  • Join a forum with members who are better than you.
  • Join a Facebook group with people doing what you’re trying to do.
  • Join a Meetup group and surround yourself with experts and amateurs alike.
  • Talk to your friends about what you’re doing and show them what progress you’ve made.

You’re not going to become a good boxer by shadowboxing. Join a gym, get beat up, and improve.

Get feedback so you can figure out what the next step of your journey is.

So how much time do you need?

You need as much time as you need until you’re good. You will know when you’ve gotten good. Some skills may take 4 days, some skills may take 4 months, some may take 4 decades. I’ve probably clocked in around 73,000 into sleeping and I still have to wake up in the middle of the night to piss.

The 10,000-hour rule is an urban legend that everyone believes nowadays. 10,000 is a lot of hours, a daunting task, and then our friend paralysis by analysis kicks in.

Stop looking at things so damn analytical. Just do some good ol’ fashioned work and get things done. Get good in time.

Big dawgs gotta work.