10,000 hours of practice is often touted as the amount of time it takes to develop a high level of performance in a particular area. However, it is what you spend the 10,000 hours practicing on that actually matters.
In a recent ‘road sign awareness survey’ 70% of respondents expressed over confidence in their knowledge of UK road signs. I’d count myself in this number, even though I could describe myself as a high performance driver based on the 10,000 hours rule, having driven around 10,000 miles a year for the last 25 years. However, when I’m driving I only have a cursory interest in the road signs and markings around me as I’m listening to the radio, thinking about an upcoming meeting or what groceries I need to buy on the way home etc.
What about in a work situation?
Clearly coming in every day for 10, 20, 30 years without being ‘mentally present’ doesn’t count as experience. In fact, if anything it could lead to overconfidence in one’s knowledge/ level of ability and increase the risk of serious errors occurring.
It is only through deliberate practice, that is specifically practicing tasks and getting feedback on them that high performance is attained. The sports world has known this for years – now that you know it what will you do?