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10,000 Hour Rule

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Mastery Level

In the second chapter "The 10,000-Hour Rule" of his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell poses a question asking if innate talent truly exists. He states that, "Achievement is talent plus preparation" (38) Throughout this chapter Gladwell begins to raise questions regarding this very thought. From a study done by K. Anders Ericsson, the history of "The Beatles", and an examination of the 75 richest people in the world, Gladwell explains that it is more than just talent. He states that practice time and the year an individual was born play a crucial part in their success. I feel that Gladwell is fair and convincing in his arguments and I think that these are all excellent examples to show the significance of the 10,000-Hour Rule and of being born in the right place at the right time.

In "The 10,000-Hour Rule," Gladwell discusses what he calls the 10,000-Hour Rule. He announces that it is the magic number for which researchers believe a person reaches mastery level and can contribute a lot to a person's success. Gladwell begins this argument with a study done by K. Anders Ericsson and two colleagues at the Berlin's elite Academy of music. He shares that they divided the school's violinists into three groups: the world class soloists, the "merely good" and those who intended to become teachers in the public school system. Everyone began playing around the same age of five, Gladwell points out and within the first years practiced approximately the same amount. By age eight the hours of practice for the students who were the best had increased. At age twenty Gladwell states that the elite were practicing well over thirty hours a week and had each totaled the "magic" 10,000 hours. He concludes that it takes about ten years to acquire 10,000 hours. Gladwell's summation and according to Daniel Levitin, ""The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert-in anything"" (40).

In Gladwell's opening argument here, I found a detailed analysis of what he describes as the 10,000-Hour Rule. His example given of the study done on the violinists by Ericsson and his colleagues is fair and complete. He is able to effectively use his knowledge and writing together to create convincing evidence of this "magic" 10,000-Hour Rule. There seems to be an exception to this passage that keeps me from completely believing that 10,000 hours of practice in a certain skill can take you from ordinary to extraordinary. In one of Gladwell's final statements, he quotes Levitin saying, "But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time" (40). I have a problem with this statement. When he writes it by saying that "no one has yet found"; Gladwell implies that there are people out there that can do it in less time and that they just have not been found. He leaves me a bit suspicious. Gladwell goes on later to explain that Ericsson and his colleagues never found any "naturals" or "grinds". He refers to "naturals" as those individuals that are extremely gifted and rise to the top without the 10,000 hours of practice. Gladwell defines a "grind" as a person who works harder than everyone else but just does not have what it takes to reach mastery level. The problem with all this is that perhaps they just have not been found either. I believe that they do exist and that Gladwell is conveniently leaving this out to make his argument seem relevant. I find these two mistakes to be exceptions to Gladwell's well refined idea behind the 10,000-Hour Rule.

Malcolm Gladwell tests his idea of the 10,000-Hour Rule, on perhaps, one the most famous bands ever, The Beatles. He states that The Beatles came to the United States in February of 1964. Incidentally, it was ten years between the time the band was founded and their "greatest artistic achievements". Gladwell points out however that two of the band mates, Lennon and McCartney began playing together in 1957. In 1960, Gladwell shares that while they were still in high school, the band was invited to play in Hamburg, Germany. It was here that the Beatles were given their extraordinary opportunity



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