Thursday, 23 June 2011

10,000 hours Theory

10,000 hours = 3 hours a day for 10 years

There are very few days that I don’t work on some aspect of my art. Whether it is sketching, reading about design theory, seeing new courses, evaluating courses, actual field work or simply trying to get outside of my box and re-assess design from a complete new angle. I continue to work on being a better designer just about ever day of the year.

Herb Simon pioneered a theory in the 1970’s that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve a level of expertise in any sport or profession. After studying many of the world’s experts in many given fields, he found this to be a common denominator among the group. None were natural and ready from the outset. They all had a gift for what they pursued, but each one clearly had worked very hard for a long period of time to become very accomplished at what they did.

One important aspect that remains a critical part of this theory is the fact the person putting in all the practice and time has to have the natural talent to work with in the first place. If the person has no natural talent, even this level of dedication will not achieve mastery over their pursuit. They will always be limited by the natural talent that they have to work with. I was an awful writer in University. I’ve spent years writing every day and become good enough to get published. That is as far as my limited talent will take me. No additional time or additional education will ever help me master writing.

I have always believed in Seneca’s observation that Success is when Opportunity meets Preparation. In studying most artists, the elite are not the ones with the greatest “natural” ability. While they do come from a pool of naturally talented people, they are the ones who are willing to work much harder than anyone else to perfect their craft. The elite are not destined, but rather the combination of talent and determination.

While talent and developing that talent over 10,000 hours are critical to mastering your subject or profession, the final piece of the puzzle is opportunity. It took me a long time to realize that the 10,000 plus hours I have spent (includes the blogging) were critical to becoming a much better designer. I’m only beginning to realize that 10,000 hours may be just as critical to becoming a better businessman. It's going to take a little more creative thinking to increase the opportunities available in this challenging times.

1 comment:

  1. I've done much more than 10,000 hours practice, and at times I still feel completely lost in the sea of knowledge which it takes to be a success. Love you Uncle Ian, Your Rotten Nephew, Andrew