As popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, and researched by Ericsson KA, Charness N, Feltovich P, Pahole I, Drstvenšekb I, etc. doing anything for over 10,000 hours is what is often considered as making it lasting, bringing an “expert level”.

A paper ( by Ficko, M.; Pahole, I. & Drstvenšek, I. says in the abstract: “The study of notions such as knowledge and expert knowledge is aimed at acquiring new insights intended to be applied for more efficient use of the expert knowledge and conveying it in the development of intelligent systems capable to replace the human expert’s knowledge. In order to be able to make systems useful in making decisions and replacing the brain work of human expert we must obtain the definition of terms knowledge and expert knowledge. After defining these two terms we must find out what is needed to secure an expert and how the expert solves the problems in the area of expert activities“.

The research also looks into the implication of this in the field of artificial intelligence.

However, not everyone sees the 10,000 mark as permanent: for example, from Seth Godin’s blog (

For me, though, some of the 10k analysis doesn’t hold up. The Doors (or Devo or the Bee Gees) for example, didn’t play together for 10,000 hours before they invented a new kind of rock*. If the Doors had encountered significantly more competition for their brand of music, it’s not clear that they could have gotten away with succeeding as quickly as they did. Hey, Miley Cyrus wasn’t even 10,000 hours awake before she became a hit.

Doc Searls and Scoble didn’t blog for 10,000 hours before they became the best, most important bloggers in the world. Molly Katzen didn’t work on her recipes for 10,000 hours before she wrote the Moosewood Cookbook either.

*(There were bar bands in Buffalo, where I grew up, that put in far more than 10,000 playing mediocre music… didn’t help. Hard work may be necessary, but not sufficient).

Here’s my take on it:
You win when you become the best in the world, however ‘best’ and ‘world’ are defined by your market. In many mature markets, it takes 10,000 hours of preparation to win because most people give up after 5,000 hours. That’s the only magic thing about 10k… it’s a hard number to reach, so most people bail

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