Research over the past two decades has identified a strong link between hours of practice and expertise in sports, chess and the performing arts. In the early 1990s, Anders Ericsson, a psychologist at Florida State University, spent months tracking violinists at the Music Academy in Berlin. He found that the top violinists had practiced on average 10,000 hours during the course of their lives. The weakest violinists had averaged 4,000 hours.
This 10,000-hour “rule,” cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers,” is now accepted as gospel among a segment of society that believes that hours logged for young athletes and musicians is the key to success. The core of the argument is that only through what is called “deliberate” practice can the 10,000 hours pay off. By this, the experts mean practicing in the right conditions with the right motivation, mentorship and potential for eventual success. Simply studying piano for 10,000 hours isn’t enough to ensure greatness. Deliberate practice is the key.
But deliberate practice doesn’t always follow textbook rules. Sometimes it comes inadvertently.
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