Why is everyone in Hollywood talking about 10,000 hours?

That’s the amount of time that author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes for a talented person to master a cognitively complex skill — like becoming a world-class pianist or an Olympic athlete — in his new book, “Outliers: The Story of Success.”

According to Gladwell, it’s the number of hours that separates the merely good from the really great, and it’s easy to see why the “10,000 hour” idea has caught fire in an industry like Hollywood, which is only partly a meritocracy, where riches rain down just as often on the lucky and the well-connected as on the talented. For many who have found success in the entertainment industry, Gladwell’s theory offers a nifty, concrete explanation to the question of “Why me? Why have I climbed to the top of my field when so many others have failed?”

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5 thoughts on “‘10,000 Hours’ book a hit with Hollywood

  1. Just read the Harvard article, thanks David. It certainly puts the 10,000 hours into perspective.

    To me the core issue that it addresses is the provision of opportunity to learn/experience/practice by way of the right circumstances.

    In the book these circumstances occur randomly, producing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs among others, but to me, it is a very clear message that you can create your own circumstances through which these opportunities materialise.

    This is especially highlighted to me as I am a new parent, and see it as my responsibility to provide the right circumstances under which my Son can develop his 10,000 hours or whatever his non hollywood version may be.

  2. While I admire Malcolm Gladwell’s books, especially”The Tipping Point”, it is a pity that this fifty-thousand-foot-view on the subject of expertise is so popular. For those at SOT, it is a far better investment to read “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle, which is the source, perhaps, of Gladwell’s book.

    And for those of you who want the on-the-ground information, read “The Making of an Expert” by K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula, and Edward T. Cokely. This Harvard Business Review article can be wpreviewed here:

  3. A bit like winning lotto,empty brain one day,winner knowledgeable next,confuseing to many who buy tickets for years without winning a cent.1000 plus stories to go with each action,50%love you the other 50% dont, in most games only one gold medal winner.
    PASSION in oneself creates commitment to winning any goal set 10 100 1000hrs luck any time may get noticed.

  4. Interesting, I was at a conference last week and one of the presenters was talking about this book.
    I wonder what the % is of people who are at the top of their chosen field who have 10 000 hours under their belt and how many more who are not at the top who also have 10 000 hours ?????

    The joy of having a catchy gimmic -one that appeals to people and sparks their interest- media attention

  5. I’ve only read a couple of Mr. Gladwell’s books – actually, only parts of a couple of his books because I find them hard to get through – but I tend to agree with this reviewer, talking about the new “10,000 Hours” book: ‘In a way, all his books are like infomercials for a movement toward populist scientism in the fields of sociology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and psychology. All those sociologists working diligently to understand why so many hockey players are born in the beginning of the year, well, their work is succeeding! Look how much we can make sense of now!’

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