In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Through much research this theory have proven to be pretty much spot on and we can see from musicians to sports star’s regardless of age they have all spent upwards of 10,000 hours of practice before mastering their trade.
Most people are aware of Gladwell’s theory but what most people forget is purposeful practice. I can list numerous examples where I have accumulated 10,000 hours of experience but I have no developed mastery. I have easily spent 10,000 hours driving time over the course of my lifetime yet I am far from an F1 driver for example.Many recreational runners will easily accumulate 10,000 hours of running but will never be a competitive runner never mind elite.
The simple reason is the lack of purposeful practice. When I get into my car I put on a podcast or the radio and listen and learn about different topics I enjoy while I drive my car. I am barley present in the moment, just getting from A-B in as safe a manner as possible but as time efficient as possible. I am not thinking about driving angles, aerodynamics or driving efficiency the same way an F1 driver does so my 10,000 hours are meaningless. The same way, if a recreational runner, accumulates 100km a week in running, but just puts on the ear phones and runs they are not practicing their running gate, efficiency and manging their heart rate and running efficiency the same way Mo Farah does which makes their training time almost meaningless.
My point is simple. Gladwell’s theory is sound and proven time and again to be correct, but what is most important is not just accumulating hours doing a given task but being present in the moment and attaining purposeful practice.
What does this mean for you, an average Joe? Well put simply, when you are in the gym or performing any task make sure you’re not just in auto pilot but instead are thinking about the mechanics of the task at hand trying to implement perfect technique and stay present in the moment practicing with purpose.