The Curse of the 10,000-hour ‘Talent Syndrome’

October 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

Imagine if someone told you that you needed 10,000 hours to learn to drive a car.

No? What about 5000 hours then? Would that be suitable?
How about 3000 hours? Or 1000? Or 500? Ok, how about 60 hours?

A very average person with a reasonable fear of cars can learn to drive in about 60 hours.

Or can they? Because it depends on the car, doesn’t it? Is it a small car? Is it a truck? Are you learning to drive with your husband/wife (not recommended) or are you learning to drive with a patient teacher? Are you learning to drive in Auckland, New Zealand or are you learning to drive in Mumbai, India?

The complexity of learning is so complex, that we’d rather not think about it. But the question isn’t about learning. The question is: Does it really take us 10,000 hours to learn anything? No it doesn’t. It takes us 10,000 hours to become a freakin’ genius at something.

Most of us are reasonably competent at learning a software program in 30 hours.

Most of us can learn to play one song on a piano in 50 hours.
Most of us can learn how to write superb articles in about 120 hours.

But the 10,000-hour concept stops us in our tracks.

We are so obsessed with the factor of genius that we forget about competence.
Competence is easy. Competence is doable. Competence makes our lives richer and makes us more confident.

The stage of learning goes from infancy to competency…

From competency to fluency; from fluency to mastery. And you know what? Most of us are very competent at a lot of things we do every single day of our lives. And that’s because we have to do it. We weren’t born to type in forums, or to use iPhones, or to drive a car. But we do. We learn how to be competent in all of the above. Then we learn some more, and some more and then we become fluent. If we live long enough and we practice deliberately, we achieve mastery.

But the goal isn’t mastery.

It’s not even fluency.
It’s just competency.

You don’t need 10,000 hours. Or 5000 hours. Or even 1000 hours.

You need 60 hours.
Or 30 hours.
That’s it.

You can go from a complete dolt to a competent, happy camper

All in 30 hours.
Try it. It works.

And it sure beats being a dolt who’s waiting to free up 10,000 hours to be a genius!

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