Tuesday, 13 October 2015

10,000 Hours Rule?

You probaby have heard of 10,000 hours rule. It sounded convincing when I first heard of it, because who wouldn't be a Master after practicing the same thing over and over again, for 10,000 hours? Many of my teachers have said the same thing. One of my teacher-turn-trader resonated the same idea, 10,000 hours rule. Keep practicing the same task for 10,000 hours and you will truly master the particular task. But really to me who was somewhat skeptical, it forced me to rethink its effectiveness and its potential fallacy.

"There's no shortcut!" That's what everyone is telling you, and maybe that's what you are going to tell me also. Fair enough, if that is what you have been told. Amateur traders have to trade 10,000 hours to be truly master the trading game, professional footballers have to practice the same type of drilling for 10,000 hours to make every accurate passing and play beautiful football. Alexis Sanchez would have practiced 10,000 hours to strike goals of an absolute screamer! Same goes to Mesut Ozil with his visionary passings and assists that created the highest number of goal chances in the English Premier League for Arsenal FC. The list goes on and on.

Even Bruce Lee himself said he was not afraid of someone who has practiced 10,000 different kicks once, but he was fearful of someone who has practiced the same one kick 10,000 times. That makes perfect sense, again at the expense of consistent practice and persistence. But what if I tell you practicing the same thing over and over again for 10,000 times might not work, if you had never improved and take preventive measures against hazardous mistakes

Thomas Edison never associated himself with failure, when he could well be the person who had experienced the most number of failures during his times. But he had successfully found 999 ways of things that did not work, with the 1000th way finally seen the light. It is never easy for one to press on when one has not found the right solution for 999 times, but still persevere relentlessly to hit the jackpot on the 1000th time. He was such a person. The different lens of perspectives would bring you different mindset, and that could well be the difference between you and your successful neighbour. 

But what am I talking about?! Everyone improves when one spends enough time practicing that one skill, right? Wrong. Not everyone actively checks for their hazardous mistakes. Not everyone looks for where they could go wrong, especially after they have achieved a small success in practicing that one skill. We tend to feel good when we got slightly better in doing something. People complement you for having done a good job! Then we stick in the good times and settle for the little glory we have earned. Next we have stepped foot into the grave mistake of complacency.

What I meant exactly by checking our hazardous mistakes is by looking for things that I could have potentially overlooked. If I were not careful, I will redo the same thing over and over again for 10,000 hours but never realised what I have been doing could be erroneous. And then I become the master of that skill, in the wrong way. I will get so used to doing it with consistent but incorrect way. For example, for an extended period of time I was playing basketball the wrong way. I kept on practicing hours and hours but still I could not play properly. Wrong techniques.

Hard work without proper techniques is futile. 

I rather do something one time with flawless techniques, than doing something 10,000 times but with incorrect ones. Say for instance you want to fry an egg but you need to first break the eggshell. Knocking the egg against the table 10,000 times softly would never even crack the egg. But just one hard knock against the table is sufficient to break the egg. By doing things the right way, you may cut short the 10,000 hours rule. That's why people read, because reading books is the best way to leverage on others' knowledge and experiences.

But before improving something and taking preventive measures against hazardous mistakes, one thing is for sure  ACTION. Only by taking actions that you can avoid being stagnant. We can keep on talking but actions will always speak louder. I always try my best to walk the talk. I myself tend to think too much at times but don't do anything in the end. Again I have to keep reminding myself to take actions. Thinking and worrying is one thing, taking action is putting your thoughts in the move and change the world.

In general, 10,000 hours rule applies but only when coupled with persistence, constant improvement and actively (and humbly) seeking preemptive measures against potentially hazardous mistakes.

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