I’m currently reading a very interesting book entitled Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. (The “our” is Canada, if you hadn’t already guessed that from the reference to hockey.) If nothing else, this book has made me, as a figure skater, realize that participating in hockey can be almost as expensive as participating in figure skating, especially when parents put their kids into all kinds of additional hockey training and coaching.
As regular readers of this blog know, it bugs me when writers get things wrong or can’t be bothered to justify their facts. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of references to the “10,000 hour rule” – the idea that you need to spend 10,000 hours on an activity to be successful at it. I knew that this idea was popularized by writer Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, but I didn’t know where he got the idea from or what it was based on.
So imagine my surprise when I Googled “10,000 hour rule” and found this very recent letter by K. Anders Ericsson, the lead author of the study that Gladwell cites as “Exhibit A” in support of the “rule”. Not only does Ericsson say that Gladwell “invented” the 10,000 hour rule, but he also describes Gladwell as making a “provocative generalization to a magical number”. (more…)