Posted on: February 22, 2020 Posted by: A.L. Jonas Comments: 0
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What do Bill Gates, Kobe Bryant and BTS have in common? Yes, they are all highly successful in their own fields. Aside from achieving greatness in their professions, what are their similarities? What is it that separate them apart from the rest? What is their recipe for success? Is it innate talent, passion for their chosen fields, hard work or simply luck? The answer is they all followed the 10000 hour rule of success.

In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell attributed success as the result of 10,000 hours of training. According to Gladwell, if you study, practice and do something for 10,000 hours; you will excel in that particular field. The world’s most successful people spent years of intense focus and training on their area of expertise.

Gladwell cited the violinists in Berlin, the Beatles and Bill Gates to illustrate his point: 

Violinists in Berlin

In a paper written by Anders Ericsson, a University of Colorado professor on the Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance, it is said that the world class violinists or the elite performers have an average of 10,000 hours of practice compared to the regular performers who have a practice time of about 4,000 hours only.

Surprisingly, no naturally gifted talents emerged in the study. Although the innate ability helped them in the early years, the subsequent level of excellency was highly dependent on the amount of accumulated practice. What was once taught to be innate talent was actually a result of intense and deliberate practice.

The Beatles

In 1960, an unknown high school rock band went to Hamburg, Germany to play in local pubs. There the band played an average of eight hours per day seven days a week in front of rowdy bar crowds and unpredictable audiences. By the time the band debuted in the international scene in 1964, they had already performed about 1,200 performances together.

The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany
Source:  The Rutherford Institute

The hours and hours of practice that they did during those four years in Hamburg honed both their musical and songwriting skills. By the end of the sixties, the Beatles had taken the world by storm with a series of hit singles and best-selling albums making them the greatest band in the history of music.

Bill Gates 

If you think that Bill Gates’ story is as simple as dropping out of college, starting a company and becoming an instant billionaire, think again. His interest on computer programming started at the age of 13. He was then a student at Lakeside school, Seattle’s most exclusive prep school for boys. Studies reveal that Bill Gates actually sneaked into the school terminal to practice programming every night.  During that time in 1968, a computer terminal was very rare. When he met Paul Allen in his teenage years, the two were already addicted to programming.

Bill Gates at a Young Age
Image Source:  Business Insider

By the time Microsoft was launched, the two were ready. The thousands of hours spent studying programming paid off and catapulted Bill Gates to become the richest man on earth. 

Kobe Bryant 

Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA player who ever lived is also an example of somebody who gained success through 10,000 hours of practice. When asked several times during interviews to where does he attribute his success; Kobe Bryant would always talked about his intense work ethic -from crack of dawn workouts to marathon shooting practices. He was often seen practicing in the wee hours of the morning while everyone else was still sleeping. He is also known for staying behind to continue practicing long after practice was over.

Video Source: Evan Carmichael

For Kobe, it not just about the 10,000 hours alone but it is about practicing with the proper mindset. It is about mindfulness practice. It is being aware of what you are doing every single time. It involves deliberate attention and focus. To be successful, the body, the mind and the heart should work as one during those 10,000 hours.

“It’s not about the number of hours you practice, it is about the number of hours your mind is present during the practice.”

Kobe Bryant


The global pop sensation from South Korea, BTS, is also another example. In 2019, in less than 12 months, BTS beat the Beatles’ Billboard Chart Record, when they landed their third number 1 album in the Billboard 200 chart. They have captured the world not only because of their music and the message behind each of their songs but also because of their on point choreography and intense dance moves.

Video Source: Big Hit Labels

The group which consists of 7 members are all extremely talented, both their rap line and vocal line but that did not happen overnight. What the audiences see right now is a result of years and years of continuous practice and hard work. Even the members themselves admitted that some of them don’t even know how to dance, sing or rap at first. They had to undergo a rigorous and intensive training to be able to do what they can today. In fact, even up to this day, despite all the things that they have already accomplished, people who worked with them could attest that they still sometimes spent 16 hours of practice a day just to hone their skills.

No Shortcut

Successful people got to where they are because of the number of hours they have spent improving their craft. There was no shortcut. It has taken them a lot of hard work and determination. It takes passion, willpower, dedication and as Kobe Bryant said, mindfulness . These people were able to do it because they love what they are doing.

If you want to be great at something, you need to follow this life rule on success. Allot 10,000 hours of learning and doing it to develop expertise in your chosen field. Start by allocating an extra hour each day to improve your craft.

If you spend one extra hour each day in your chosen field, you will be a national expert in that field in five years or less.

Earl Nightingale

Find your passion and and you won’t have a problem clocking in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in that area.

Good luck!

Updated version. First published in Pinoy Smart Living on 03.01.2019

Feature Image Credit: Free-Photos from Pixabay Images

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