The 10 000 hour rule myth

It takes 10 000 hours to get good at something.

We’ve all heard that.

I wanted to become a salsa dancer. So I asked people what it takes to become one. They said 3-5 years of practice, which was pretty much in line with the 10 000 hour rule. I thought I’d never have that kind of time so never got started.

Until last year, when I got fed up with putting things off I wanted to do. I took private classes and went out to salsa parties a few times a week for about 2 months. That didn’t make me a great dancer, but it was enough to learn the basic moves and to get to enjoy dancing.

To move on from that level and become one of the top dancers in the world, yes, that would take 10 000 hours, but that was never my intention. I just wanted to get the feel of the thing and have fun.

In a way, the 10 000 hour rule does more harm than good. It’s useful to know that if you want to get world class at anything, it’s going to take you that much practice. But that notion prevents many of us from starting in the first place as we tend to think that it takes 10 000 hours to get somewhat good at something.

It doesn’t.

As it turns out, it only takes about 20 hours of focused effort to learn a new skill. Almost anything.

Forget the 10 000 hours and remember the 20. Learn as many new skills as you can and see which one of them you want to dig deeper into.

Kudos to Josh Kaufman for making this crystal clear.