The Ten Thousand Hour Rule

In Development Advice on August 17, 2010 at 3:43 am

Malcolm Gladwell - investagates what actually makes people successful

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

           “The idea of excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimal level of  practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”   

            Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

What Gladwell is saying in this quote from his book Outliers: The Story of Success and throughout the book is that one: practice makes perfect, and two: what that requires in any given field is ten thousand hours.

Opportunity and support is what gives people success. No one is successful by themselves. We do not grow or work in isolation. The one thing that is in your control is the amount of practice you start to invest in the development of your talent. This removes the mysterious component of who is talented and therefore ready for opportunities when they appear and who is not. Any given person will have strengths and weaknesses in their chosen discipline. For an actor, the greatest strength you can possess is that of persistence.

The ever persistant Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks was famously asked once by an aspiring actor what it took to make it. His response to that was persistence. The act of trying, trying, trying again, doing it over and over and over is in fact the lesson from any successful person, in any given field. 

A guitarist will sit in their bedroom for hours strumming away, learning to master new chords, and then years in a garage/mocked-up studio/grungy bars rocking out with their band to perfect their craft, performance cohesion and stage presence. A dancer does years of the same simple repetitive movement to train the muscles to move in specific ways. A pianist will practice hours of scales before any good teacher will let them go near a song.

 But often, actors assume that all they really need to do is to learn their lines and believe they are ready to tread the boards or jump in front of a camera. They then wonder why they don’t land auditions or secure more acting roles. Acting, like any other profession, artistic or otherwise, requires time invested.

This week, look at your schedule of everything you have planned, and make sure that you have a significant amount of hours dedicated to the practice of the art form you wish to be successful in. A few more hours checked off that ten thousand hour goal will bring you closer to the career of your dreams. Let that journey begin now.

For a peak inside Malcolm Galdwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success on what it exactly takes to be success, check out the link here at…

Or buy the book at…

For more information on courses available at The Wellington Actors Studio check out


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