Rule of 100

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17th April, 2023

The 100-Hour Rule is the theory that to master a topic and get the benefits of greatness doesn’t need to take 10,000 hours.

Rather, it can often take approximately 100 hours if you break down skills into rare and valuable micro-skills.

I discovered the 10,000 hour rule in Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book, ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ and subsequently became a wee bit obsessed with the rule and its implications.

Since Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hour rule, much ink has been spilled in the attempt to prove it, or debunk it.

A simplified version of the rule goes like this: it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field. And not just any practice, but deep practice that’s intense, focused, and tough, and designed to attack your weaknesses.

This kind of deliberate practice is so demanding that the brain can only handle 4-5 hours of it per day, which means that it takes a decade to become an expert at anything.

This means you can’t truly become expert at more than a handful of things, simply because of the time it takes to become proficient. You can’t effectively pursue 14 passions simultaneously if you want to develop real skill. Developing expertise demands focus.

This is fine if you want to become a concert violinist or novelist or a sports achiever or a chess grandmaster, but for many (most?) of us, the prospect of devoting 10,000 hours to just one thing is daunting, if not downright impossible.

Many of us don’t want to devote a decade to just one thing. Many professions today demand such a broad variety of skills that spending 10,000 hours developing one would be worthless.

It may take 10,000 hours to develop mastery, but in many fields, we don’t need mastery. We don’t need to achieve elite status; we just need competence.

And it takes a fraction of those 10,000 hours to attain it. This is the rationale behind a new rule of thumb I encountered recently: The 100 hour rule which suggests that with approximately 100 hours of deep study, an individual can become proficient enough in any given field to have an impact on their career or life.

This shortened time frame allows you to quickly become proficient in any given field.

Gaining competency in a field still takes work, and it still requires deep practice: the active, deliberate, slightly uncomfortable kind that pushes you past your limits. But it only requires 1% of the hours required to become an expert.

Putting in those 100 hours isn’t exactly a cakewalk, but it’s completely doable. At 1 hour a day, you could learn a new skill in three months.

Try developing a skill with the 100 hour rule & stay blessed forever.