Skip to content

The March To 10,000 Hours

Steve Schlafman
Steve Schlafman
2 min read
The March To 10,000 Hours
Photo by insung yoon / Unsplash

How long does it take to become a master at something? I first learned of the “10,000-Hour Rule” about a decade ago when I first read ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell. The premise of this rule is simple: the key to achieving mastery in any skill or craft, is, largely, a matter of putting in the time and practicing for roughly 10,000 hours. Gladwell argued that legends like The Beatles, Bill Gates and others crossed this milestone before truly breaking out.

I’ve been thinking about the “10,000-Hour Rule” following a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a talented and thoughtful executive at a well known startup in NYC. This gentleman just turned thirty and is starting to think about the next phase of his career and life. Despite being very good at his job, he doesn’t feel like he has made an impact or developed real skills that are truly valued in the world.

He told me about Thomas Callahan, a bike builder in Brooklyn, who is the founder of Horse Cycles.  Thomas makes about twenty custom steel bikes each year. His bikes are incredibly well made and beautiful. I can assure you Thomas has passed the 10,000 hour threshold building bikes. He’s a master craftsman.

My friend explained, “there’s something intoxicating about the idea of building something with my hands, delivering it to a customer, and then seeing that person derive happiness and meaning from that exchange.” I got the sense my friend desires to transition from his “desk job” to a new vocation that has a tangible impact on others. Thomas Callahan clearly has impacted my friend.

How does this story relate back to 10,000 hours? My friend just entered his thirties and is clearly contemplating what to do next with the next phase of his career and life. I don’t know what is the right answer and path for him. BUT I do know that he has the time to remake himself and master a craft if that’s what his heart truly desires. God willing he makes it to eighty, he has five decades remaining to devote to his craft. Five decades! That’s fifty years! The time no doubt will go fast but it’s certainly more enough to achieve mastery.

So what does the march towards 10,000 hours look like? Eight hours a day for five days a week gets you there in only five years. Seems challenging but doable especially if one switches careers. Here’s another combination: two hours a day for five days a week gets you there in twenty years. That’s the part-time path to 10,000. There is even a calculator should you want to go down that rabbit hole.

Here’s my point in all of this. We all have the ability to launch our lives in a different direction. We all have the ability to master a new craft. We all have the ability to bring our visions to life. 10,000 hours seems like an eternity but remember time is on our side for many of us especially if we get started today. Each of us can become our own version of Thomas Callahan if we’re willing to put in the effort, passion and of course the time behind a vocation that we truly love.

Godspeed!

CreativityAdvice

Steve Schlafman Twitter

Exec coach. Writer. Student of Change.

Comments


Related Posts

Members Public

Investing In Your Co-Founder Relationship To Weather The Storm

What if I told you that you could have a healthy and trusting co-founder relationship? What if I told you that you could meet any roadblock head on? What if I told you there were simple practices to create a stronger union with your co-founder? Here’s the good news:

Investing In Your Co-Founder Relationship To Weather The Storm
Members Public

What I’ve Learned In My First Year as a Solopreneur

Exactly a year ago, I announced that I was leaving the world of institutional venture capital to pursue a career as a coach, advisor, and angel investor. I honestly had no clue what the path was going to look like or where it would lead me. This was one of

What I’ve Learned In My First Year as a Solopreneur
Members Public

How to Make a Lasting Impression in Under Ten Minutes

> "Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other." -Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture When I was at RRE Ventures [https://www.schlaf.co/p/86ad0a83-e6fa-480b-81d1-41f66b546ed7/www.rre.com], I had a positive first meeting with Ben Marcus [https://www.linkedin.com/

How to Make a Lasting Impression in Under Ten Minutes