Hnh. Thoughts on 10K hours.

Ted’s reading this book about learning stuff, and the 10,000 hour thing. The author kinda posits that the first 2K hours are foundational, the rest are mastery. I’m generalizing wildly abt the author’s stance here bc, like, I haven’t read it, BUT:

I think that’s a friggin intriguing place to start. Like. Like. I’m sure that over the course of my life I’ve spent somewhere between 5-600 hours studying Spanish. Definitely not more, maybe not even more than 500. But we’ll give me the 600, because what the hell, why not. And I’d say I’ve probably spent maybe 12-1500 hours ACTIVELY drawing, studying drawing, etc. Doing that specific kind of art.

My Spanish is rudimentary. My art skills are such that I’ve said for decades that I’m good enough to see how good I COULD be with practice/how good I’m not.

But looking at both those things from a “2k hours is foundational” viewpoint…I can 100% see how, although they’re very different THINGS, that premise lines up. My art skills are legit 100% better than my Spanish skills. If you want to add writing, which I’ve obviously spent FAR MORE than 10K hours doing, then it maps even farther: my writing skills are FAR BEYOND 1000% better than my drawing skills.

And this, this is the bit that’s blowing me away, I think:

2000 hours is not NEARLY as overwhelming an amount of time to contemplate as 10K hours. 2K hours is one work year.

Obviously there is zero chance I’m going to spend 8 hours a day 50 weeks a year working on Spanish or art, but 2K hours as a foundation feels achievable. And it seems to me that if you put in 2K hours with a certain degree of regularity, you’ve got a certain level of commitment that might make working toward 10K hours more likely.

& I mean, let’s face it: if I spent another 4-600 hours on art, I’d really be quite good. WHETHER I’d do that is another question, perhaps even one not worth contemplating, but it’s certainly less intimidating than considering 8600 hours to reach any sort of level of competency. Another 1500 hours of Spanish would probably land me in “not embarrassed to try speaking it” territory, if not genuine fluency.

So this is a thing I gotta sit with a bit. Or rather…work with, a bit, I think. I’m really intrigued. Hmm!

1 Comment


  1. Hmm, I encountered the 10K hours as part of my PhD and had to read the real sources (not Gladwell’s poor appropriation). The evidence seems around mastery for 10K so usable Spanish to me would not seem to need that much. My PhD was about distinguishing factors in a particular IT job and good we enhance the differentiating aspects. The role is very high level and $$$ and 10K hours kept showing up as a minimum! And yes, my partner calls me a SNAG, she means a Sensitive New Age Geek.
    More importantly, thanks for your books, I’ve enjoyed several!

Comments are closed.