The concept of needing 10,000 hours of practice to master a field, as discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, rings true for me. H. James Wilson recently posted an article on the Harvard Business Review blog on the topic. He says you can get your 10,000 hours in a year and 51 days (416 days), but that assumes 24 hours of practice/day – totally unrealistic.
As a practical matter, if you are practicing 2000 hours/year, it will take five years to master anything. You might master it a little faster if you are working full-time at a high pace in your new field, but for most of us, 2000 of new work in a year is about all we can handle. Much of what we do is administrative work that isn’t new. Five years is a good target to shoot for to feel like an expert.
I’ve worked in several fields over my career, and each one has taken me about five years in which to feel comfortable giving seat of the pants advice. Of course, in specialized areas of the field, it has taken longer. And in some areas, I will never feel like at expert.
What have you taken on recently? How far along are you toward your 10,000 and mastery?
And perhaps more importantly, what are you doing to foster mastery in your staff?