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Master a Skill in 10,000 Hours

A lot of people believe that we must be born with a certain level of genius to become a master a skill. Like Mozart, Tiger Woods, or Mark Zuckerburg, we envision a child obsessing over a subject and later dominating everyone else in the field. Is this entirely the case?


Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University believed otherwise. His studies, made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, have shown that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of a subject. Instead of being born a genius, the Mozarts and Tiger Woods just reached their 10,000 hour mark at a younger age.

10,000 hours equates to about 3.5 years at 8 hours a day. If we were to spend only an hour a day it would take roughly 30 years to accumulate the 10,000 hours. It’s like 4 years at a university or the first 4 years at a job. Theoretically we should be pros by the end for both, though this is not always the case, especially when our focus is not entirely there.


Dan McLaughlin is someone who read about this and decided to take the challenge. He quit his job and decided to become a master at golf. He is currently at the 5,000 hour mark, and still at it. He blogs about his journey at  There he provides statistical analysis of his game along with his personal struggles and achievements. We definitely hope he becomes a professional by the end of it!

All of us idolize our heroes and mentors as though they are god like in their skill, when in reality they had the patience and perseverance to spend a lot of time and energy doing the things they love. So if we truly want something bad enough, there should be no excuse to find the time to make our dreams come a reality. It may take 30 years, but the possibility is there.

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