10000 hours + 10% = Genius?

Even after more than 10000 hours of psychological study and training, I am not a genius. Shocking… I know! You too are probably not a genius either. But maybe we can both move towards changing that today.


In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the 10,000-hour theory was formulated by Dr K Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’.


Gladwell studied the exceptional successes of numerous high achievers across a range of fields, and the one common factor was that each individual spent 10,000 hours or more learning their craft. Wayne Gretzky played 10,000 hours of hockey growing up, Bill Gates spent 10,000 hours programming and the Beatles played together for over 10,000 hours before starting to master their craft.


Knowing that I and many others have put in more than 10,000 hours into our respective fields and are not yet geniuses, this leads me to ask a very profound question which is…


What’s the deal with that?


The answer is what has led to the creation of my new daily blog and this, my very first post. Ever since I was a teen, I have wanted to know why people do what they do, and have been especially interested in how someone becomes a great leader and contributor in their field of interest. However, not all exceptional people are recognized as such, nor do they need to be. This is why I see greatness as a personal pursuit that almost anyone can achieve. Anyone can become much greater than they were before and most people can personally transform into a truly ‘GREAT’ example.


So then why am I and many others not geniuses yet, even after our 10,000 hours? I believe much of it has to do with the classic metaphor of ‘giving it 110%’, which I like to call ‘that extra 10%’.


It’s not just the amount of time, but how it is used. In fact, I am sure that if you consistently give it ‘that extra 10%’, exceptional results can be achieved in much less than 10,000 hours in many instances. Quality is everything! Although I am highly knowledgeable and very confident in what I do, I have not had 10,000 hours of the highest quality training and even more importantly, skilled application. I’ve produced some fantastic results and have had some very solid training, but fantastic and solid are not the same as superior.


Fortunately over the last few years, I have sought superior training, and I will continue to do so. However, there are two other parts of the equation. Effort and application. Superior training without full effortful concentration and persistent application will not get you very far.


Even with the very best swimming race coach, if you don’t consistently practice with 110% effort and you rarely apply what you have learnt during actual races, then you will remain mediocre at best.


In other words, get in the darn pool and start swimming your heart and mind out now! Every day, you go beyond what you once thought possible. And the only time you ever temporarily stop, is when you need to seek feedback and make adjustments.


Here are my tips for achieving personal greatness (and maybe even genius) in your area of passion.


1. Utilize ‘full focus immersion blocks’. When studying your passion, set aside a specific amount of time regularly and make that task, your entire and only world.  Allow no distractions to interfere with what you are doing and aim to go beyond your previous best effort each time. Always aim to give that extra 10%.

2. Get the best training and coaching that you choose to afford. It’s not what you can afford, it’s what you choose to afford. What someone can afford is a meaningless belief as value and not price should always be the deciding factor when making an intelligent investment decision. Do your homework, pay up, and then don’t look back.

3. Challenge yourself to continually find more and more ways to practice and apply what it is that you’re learning so you can consistently refine and individualize your skills. E.g. If you’re a musician, do everything you can to get gigs. If the clubs are closed, go to the pubs, if no pubs, go to schools, churches, fairs, busk if you have to. Do everything you can to get your live practice hours up.



In 2012, I will go the extra 10% and set aside 1,000 hours to into my own training and consistently apply what I am learning primarily through this blog. This will be a daily blog, which means I will be posting some form of simple, practical and inspirational content in text, audio and video form 5-7 times a week as I aim to share my findings in the search for personal greatness. My goal is to consistently move beyond my best to create a fun, unique and highly educational experience that inspires you to find and cultivate your own passion(s) and move towards your highest level of personal success and happiness.

So that’s how I’m going the extra 10%. If you’d like to share how you plan to go the extra 10%, let me know by commenting below.




One Response to “10000 hours + 10% = Genius?”

  1. Aboagye Frimpong Richard

    To me, there is nothing as powerful as the power vision. Having a vision and the inner desire to reach that vision will enable you to concentrate, be more disciplined in order to reach the vision. Therefore, it is important that we keep our visions right before us, this will enable us to go that extra 10. Thank you Aleks.