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Practice Management > Building Your Business

The 10,000-hour rule: What elite advisors, Bill Gates and the Beatles have in common

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I recently finished reading the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, who is also the author of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink.” All three books I’d recommend to help you think outside the box and reach your peak potential.

In “Outliers,” Gladwell points out success stories from all different walks of life, including such luminaries as Bill Gates and the Beatles, to name a few.

So, what do eclectic songsmiths like John and Paul have in common with the founder of Microsoft? Have you heard about the 10,000-hour rule?

According to the book, people who want to reach a mastery of their preferred career path require 10,000 hours of practice. Why 10,000 hours? The neurologist Daniel Levitin says in his research of success stories the number 10,000 keeps coming up. Essentially, that number equates to three hours per day for 10 years. (Hey, if it were easy, everybody’d be successful.)

The training ground
Before they led the first British musical “invasion,” the Beatles spent their formative music years in Hamburg, Germany, playing marathon-like, eight-hour concerts. As Gladwell writes, “By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964 they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times … Most bands today don’t perform 1,200 times in their entire careers.”

In 1968, a 13-year-old Bill Gates joined a computer club, where he could access a time-sharing computer with a direct link to a mainframe computer in downtown Seattle. Over the next few years, his interest in computers became an obsession. “In one seven-month period in 1971, Gates and his cohorts ran up 1,575 hours of computer time on the ISI mainframe, which averages out to eight hours a day, seven days a week,” Gladwell says.

Now, take a look at any elite advisor. Not a single one of them rolled out of bed on day one and hit the level of success they would later hit 10, 15 or 20 years down the road. They took their lumps. They did something else, too–they worked on their craft every day, sharpening their strengths as well as identifying their weak spots and refining them as well.

Where are you in your own practice? Have you already hit the 10,000-hour mark, or is it a road you’re currently traveling? Remember this as you hit those bumps on your journey to the top: Neither Rome nor Bill Gates nor the Beatles was built in a day. And neither is elite advisors. They are built one prospect, one client at a time.


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