Posted by: everynation | November 6, 2009

The 10,000 hour rule

larry-matsuwakiby Larry Matsuwaki


Malcolm Gladwell got me thinking from his book “Outliers” after reading what he called the 10,000 hour rule. He mentions a study done in the early 1990’s by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson at Berlin’s elite Academy of Music. He divided the school’s violinists into three groups: 1) Stars (world-class potentials) 2) Good 3) Unlikely to play professionally who intended to be music teachers. All were asked the same question. Since you picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced? The interesting finding was this. Everyone from all three groups started playing around the same age, about 5 years old. What was the difference? It was the number of hours they practiced. By age 20 the stars had practiced 10,000 hours. The good students had totaled 8,000 hours and the future music teachers had totaled just over 4,000 hours. The interesting thing about Ericsson’s study is that he couldn’t find any naturals, those that effortlessly made it to the top. The thing that distinguished one performer over another was how hard they work. He gave examples of the Beetles, Bill Gates and others who invested a lot of time in practice before they became successful.

Two thoughts stood out to me that I will need to improve. Hard work and practice hours.

Hard work. Thinking about these violin players it must have been hard for these kids to practice instead of playing with their friends. It took discipline to say no and resist. If you really want something bad enough you will work hard at it. This year I set a goal to run my first marathon. When I started running I could barely run 10 minutes before I would need to stop gasping for air. Now 10 months later, I can run almost 3 hours straight. I am amazed at that accomplishment myself but I realize it was because I set a goal and it took a lot of hard work and discipline. Sometimes because of my schedule I would run late at night just to keep to my training plan. If we want to grow in our marriage, relationships with others and especially with God, it will take a lot of hard work! Others may be off at the golf course but you chose to take your wife for a dinner and a movie. Others may be working late but you chose to come home early to have dinner and devotions with your family. There are many things we can do with our time, but choose those things that you want to build that will last! Learn to say no to those things that don’t matter!

Practice Hours. After reading this I started to calculate how many hours I have put into reading and studying God’s word. If I read one hour a day for a year that’s only 365 hours. Ten years would be 3,650 hours. If people can invest time in becoming skilled in their talent, how much more we need to invest in knowing God. It takes time to read, meditate and pray. But it is necessary if we want to grow and succeed in our Christian walk.

I remember one of my coaches said this to me growing up… He said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent!” We could be spending all our time practicing something in the wrong way that’s not good for us. It has become unknowingly a permanent routine or way of thinking. Many times we practice negative speaking not knowing that, that only tears us down. God’s word helps us practice how to live right. I also had guys to help coach or disciple me to grow in God’s word and help apply it to my life and situation. We must create a lifestyle of continually going to God’s word to learn how to live. Practice reading and living God’s word!

Whether you are at 1 hour or 10,000 hours spending with God.  The main thought I had, is if the world is spending hours to try to succeed in life, what about us with God? Let’s take the time to spend in what really matters. Our relationship with God. Learn to practice and apply his character in our lives.


  1. Hi Pastor Larry, thanks for this post as indeed we need to spend enough time with our Bible reading and prayer before we can grow close to God. Time is the factor that determines our destiny in what and how we spend with it. There is no substitute in spending time with God as the ultimate blessings and growth that we want is to spend enough time with God.

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