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I've worked 60+ hours a week my whole life... when I was young I'd put in 70-80 hour weeks. I wanted to be a great writer.... I wanted to be a great entrepreneur.... I wanted to start great brands and build great products.

So, I put in my time.... and then I read what Malcolm Gladwell said about the 10,000 hour rule ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book) ) and realized that I had done the right thing by putting in my time and effort.

If you're a young person and you want to be great don't stop at hour 40.... push yourself every week to hit 50, 60 or 70 hours of practice at whatever it is YOU LOVE and you want to be great at.

The math is simple right?

10,000 hours / 60 hours a week = 166 weeks / 3.2 years to master something
10,000 hours / 50 hours a week = 200 weeks / 3.8 years to master something
10,000 hours / 40 hours a week = 250 weeks / 4.8 years to master something
10,000 hours / 30 hours a week = 333 weeks / 6.4 years to master something

What are you mastering right now?

Someone asked me how I learned how to be such a great interviewer after seeing my interviews with Shimon Peres and +Bill Gross recently. I told them that if the had seen my first 5,000 hours they would understand that I sucked as an interviewer and that I've only become--in my mind--an OK to good interviewer in the last couple of months.

Same thing with the LAUNCH Festival.... folks were blown away right now. Almost none of them remember the 1997 event I held called "Ready, Set, Pitch!"

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/16/business/virtual-pitch-but-real-jobs-on-the-line.html?src=pm

That was 15 years ago. I've been doing pitch events for 15 years... if I'm not good at it now I'll never be.

So, if you're a younger person forget how much you're getting paid, forget about your personal life, forget about saving the whales and focus on BUILDING YOUR SKILLS.

Life is short... be great at SOMETHING. And to be great at something you need to put in the time.

It really is that simple.
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117 comments
 
Uhhhh I think +Tim Ferriss and the 4 hr work week thing throws a wrench in this formula whoooo should I believe?????
 
You should believe in yourself, simple as that. Work towards what you want and try not to focus too much on a specific formula. The criteria for success is defined by you. So you decide when you've reached the level you want.
 
So, Jason... what you're saying is that you're an over night success story? ;)

As for the 4-Hour Workweek... It's smart marketing ("smarketing"?) in title alone. The 10k rule still applies, just has priority on using that time efficiently and effectively.
 
Jason, thx a lot... I'm 1000 hrs in my iyengar mastering and you are right!
 
The 4-Hour Workweek is about mastering a vacation. The 60-Hour Workweek is about mastering a vocation.
 
"Balance" is for people who don't want to get anything done. Look at any successful business person, sports figure, teacher, artist, leader, musician, photographer, etc. You name it - if you want to achieve a degree of success, the price is Passion & Smart, Hard Work. Extremists are usually quite happy, thank you. :-)
 
I bet a large number of those who ended up at the mental ward from a nervous breakdown would disagree with you Mark. :P
 
This is something that many people need to understand. Being good, let alone great at something rarely happens out of luck or genetics, but many dedicated hours of hard work.

Nice post.
 
To be successful in life you need to learn how to work smarter, not harder.

Tim Ferris is working smarter. Anybody making condescending remarks against him simply resents the man for his success and their lack of.
 
When I was younger I worked 60-80 hours/week. Now that I'm older and wiser I realize that it was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life.
 
"Life is so short. Be great at something." Agree.
 
"Life is short. Enjoy it." This is something many people learn too late when they grow old. They wish they enjoyed life more and all that hard work to become great was just a big ego massage. Ultimately, in the end, people just want to be happy. :-)
 
I wish all young people and even some adults would read your post. I try to with work and help youth and it can be frustrating sometimes when they want everything now or want to be as good as more established and skiledl people instantly; many give up too easily and quickly.
Thanks for sharing your experience, belief and passion.
The good things is there are many young people who are learning and putting in the effort. 
 
Very inspiring.. I'm only 20 but this is something to keep in mind for my future years when I start in a career. Thank you
 
The more I think about this post I find myself more and more against it. To me what this 10,000 Hour rule defines is your greatness as judged by the masses or relative to others in that area of mastery. i.e. your greatness defined by the competition out there. Why should your greatness be defined relative to others? That's a miserable way to live isn't it? Why can't greatness be judged by simply the personal greatness or the personal goals you feel you accomplish within yourself? Who cares how you compare to the public barometer?
 
"forget about your personal life" - life is short so what the hell would you be dropping your personal life for. I would rather spend more time around the people I love then spending 80 hours a week to master a new skill. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, I am comfortable knowing I spend as much quality time with my love ones I can rather then trying to master some skill that really has nothing to do with what really matters. Oh, and spending time to "save the whales" is also time well spent, part of life is helping protect those that can not always defend themselves.
 
Yeah Jason but what is your take on leverage? We have fat distribution channels now, consortiums of registered professionals (example 99 designs) an outsource army (odesk) and easier access to any subject matter experts (twitter, angellist...etc) ... I'd like to think that with some strategy you can get a lot done in fewer hours. Not saying I don't work as much as you, but saying that there might be a flipside to your argument. Did rebecca black do the same kind of work ethic or 10,000 hours that the Beatles did? She didn't have to because she had MASSIVE leverage through youtube's distribution channel. So to kick this question back to you Jason. Are you maximizing your work day or are you maximizing your leverage? Apple has massive leverage. They make outsized profits in their market and they only produce ~10 devices. Sony works 10x as hard and has nowhere near their gravity. Not saying that apple doesn't have a strong work ethic. But work ethic alone is 'dumb' capital if you don't think about exploiting available leverage.
 
I agree that personal greatness should be the primary aspect of your own assessment, but you live in a world where competition is unavoidable. So even if you try to judge yourself by your own standards you'll always stumble upon things others do and you must be very ignorant not to take their achievments into view when you judge yourself.
 
OK, so we have a quantitative argument: assuming that 10,000 hours is the minimum to become 'great' then we can choose to do it in 3.2 years rather than 6.4 years. But does mastery scale like that? I suspect that the slower route might lead to deeper understanding, rather than mere mastery of detail. And there's the old joke that you can't reduce pregnancy to six months by trying harder ;)
 
Work 70 hours a week, forget about money and your personal life.

Good advice idiot.
 
10,000 hour rule is complete horseshit. Nothing will necessarily take the same amount of time for a given person. For some people this will take 2,000 hours, for others it will take 15,000. It depends on how you do something, why you do something, and what your goals are.

Work smart and work hard, that's more key.
 
+Kerry Linux, that's your problem. You're the type that worries how people look at you. I've known people like that and guess what? They start to lose their personal identity. Their identity becomes what they want people to see, not who they truly are. They bury their true self and forget who they really once were. It sounds like you have approval hangups. I suppose that depends on your upbringing.
 
well that's how our society works, we can't just live in our little fantasy world, being satisfied of yourself is not nearly enough.
 
that must lead a person towards perfection and satisfaction.......
 
There's the old work-ethic idea that hard work is virtuous. But a person can work like a demon and just be another hamster on the wheel. Hard work should be judged by good results. Becoming great also involves space (and time) to dream. Oh, and being a human being must get a priority as well , unless we aspire to being shiny robots.
 
it's true..this is simple approach to get success in life..
 
It's important to remember that you don't need to do those 10,000 hours all in a row. You should work as much as works for you, not push towards some artificial standard. And you should do more than work.

Some people do 60 hour work-weeks without breaking a sweat. That's fine.

But as a workaholic, I can tell you, it's pretty easy to let life shoot by, and to get so buried in work that you forget even what it's all about, and run in circles working longer and harder, so much that you don't have time and a breather to actually get better at it.

A good part of work, I believe, ought to be finding ways to do it efficiently and more intelligently, so that you get the same amount of end results accomplished with as little time and energy as possible. That won't happen right away - you have to get good at stuff, experienced at stuff, in order to know how to do it.

But nobody should feel obligated or less dedicated, just because they don't spend 60, 70, 80 hours a week working. Some people are outliers and can do that and be happy doing it, and they should continue to do what works.

But it's not the only way, and it's not necessarily fair to set the bar higher for everyone else, either.

I'm really good at what I do. I was kind surprised to discover that most of the people who do what I do don't know as much, don't work as fast, and don't understand as much about it as I do (though was unsurprised to discover that there's others who are waaaaay better and more talented than I am). Part of that is because I have put lots of time and effort and hard work getting to my level of expertise.

But the periods in which I've had the most growth haven't always been the ones in which I've worked the most hours per week. Often the contrary, actually, because when I'm tired and never come up for air, it's hard to absorb and learn new stuff. Sometimes, I've learned and grown the most when I've stopped to smell the roses, and put down work for a bit.

I think Google gets that - with all the lounges, video games, and personal time they supposedly grant their employees. And Google produces great work and brilliant people.

There's no one, sure-fire path to excellence that fits everyone - other than, perhaps, putting enough time, diligence, and effort in. But that "enough" is not always the same for everyone, and working harder and longer sooner is not always the fastest path to excellence.

Said the tortoise to the hares out there.
 
+Christian Bautista - "Now that I'm older and wiser I realize that it was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life."
completely agree if an individual is doing 10000 hrs in the wrong direction for them that's a 20000 hr+ mistake - doing what's appropriate/right/suits you in the first place is the priority, then you're spending subsequent time well
 
10,000 hour rule? 60, 70, 80 hour weeks? Pah! It sounds like this person is trying to encourage slavery. I didn't have to work 10,000 hours for some of the most rewarding moments in my life. Infact I didn't have to work at all. Sometimes I just sit and observe nature somewhere away from the influence of human kind - that is watching a success that no human can ever hope to equal or better...
Alex Au
 
its nice to watching people work for more than 60 hour per week.
 
I think a lot of this discussion evolves around "work" when the 10,000 hour maxim is actually about "contact time" and "repetition". So you can say you're up and you're in a working mode, but if you're not on task, you might be merely over-clocking.
 
Are you successful today? no offense, but i wanted to know if all that hard work really worked for u!
 
Being great at something you love is a great goal - but I would start at being great at being happy. If you're happy, you'll enjoy your external/professional successes and if you aren't you won't and all that work will be for naught. Nobody at the end of their life says "Gee, I wish I'd worked 60 or 80 hours a week a lot more of my life."
 
Pretty sure when I hit 40 years of age, I'm not going to break into Formula 1 when I'm 50. Your logic sucks
Tracy S
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Lol - this just looks like a formula for persistence not greatness.
 
+Tracy S it is about focus and application Tracy and it basically says that most people can become an "expert" if they do the time. Speaking for myself, I'm still trying to become a "pert" at something :-)
 
That is brilliant and thank you for sharing - makes us realise we are on the right track
 
Follow your own heart/truth. Love what you do & do what you love.
'Success' takes many forms & it doesn't need to be measured in material worth.
I've been guilty of working long hours to earn money to buy things that I didn't really need.
Thanks for the post +Jason Calacanis - I hope that you achieve the success you deserve.
 
Life as you say is too short but life is for living, I work to live not live to work
 
The problem is just to figure out in what to invest 10.000 hours in. Spending 60 hours a week on something means neglecting many other things in the meantime.
 
What if building a skill is 'saving the whales'? Good job on polarising people on their opinions, and creating a discussion. You seem to have developed this skill well, as for the content... well...
 
I chose family over career or large cash flow. In the end, work accomplishes nothing. 7 billion people on the planet, and the actual chances of making anything or doing anything from a career that will last after you die is so insanely low that it's practically non-existent. I am not my job, and personal life is more important than career. But money does buy you a really nice funeral.
 
For every person that succeeds with this type of thinking hundreds of people are wrecked. What happens to all the wannabe Olympic gymnasts? They're pole dancing in Vegas. There are thousands of permanently injured former basketball players, football players, baseball players. The world is littered with guitar heroes who never quite made it.

Life can lay you low in an instant; don't put off living, having relationships, having children, going outside, playing in the mud. Look at Andrew Brietbart; dead on a sidewalk at 43. What did he put off? Learning compassion for starters.
 
I am writing my ass off :-) ... getting good at it too. I can still improve a lot, but I am getting a lof of positive feedback. So I guess that is what I am "mastering", or practicing at least.

Outliers is a great book, by the way. You must also read his book "The Tipping Point" - very interesting.
 
When your laying on your death bed. Do you think your kids are going to say, dad I am so glad you worked so much, or that you spent time with them?. Don't get me wrong,I believe in good oh honest hard work, but there is a line.
 
+Brandon Kinsey I agree. We forget that the primary reason to work is to make all the other nice things in life possible. Of course it helps if you enjoy your work, but if the work itself becomes the only purpose of ones life, then you risk ending up lonely. Rich, but lonely. I personally try to balance my work life with my private life. You know, if you are focused, you can actually do a lot in just a few hours a day.
 
And then you die and you realise that with all the long hours of work you've been doing to become "great" you've forgotten to live and, worse, forgotten about the loved ones around you. So, no, not a good idea IMO. Hard work is important, absolutely. But balance is the key to a healthy and a happy life, not turning yourself into a slave of your ambitions.
 
Working hard is good, but this is a recipe for how to fail your
family.
 
Hard work always pays off in the end,to some peoples anyway.
 
Many valid points,with which I agree and disagree.Common sense would dictate that if u put enough time in,u will excell at ,whatever.But having said that,with life being short,there's alot to be said for quality of life,being comfortable with yourself,and spending that oh so precious time enjoying the company of the people u love.Personally,I think,if u have kids,of course u want to be the best for their future,but,working yourself into an early grave,(getting hit by a bus),and realising before u die that u don't truly know Ur kids,would be a major bummer!
 
+Jim Harmer Right on the money. I think that was referred to in the post, that in order to be "great" at something, you have to sacrifice. See +Juno Magic 's post. Being Great = Forever Alone :P
 
Definitely we should work hard. It's also a pre-requisite that we love and enjoy the work we are engaged.
 
looks like your busy all your life do you take a break or are a work a holic like me
 
When you were young you wanted to start great brands? You were the most boring child alive.
 
Do something you enjoy whether for 4 or 80 hours/week. Does anyone think their epitaph will include "I wish I'd spent more time with my boss"
 
Your life changes so many ways in so many days. In my 20's worked hard. 30's due to lack of health,marriage and children my work life became a minor part of my families life and now have more self success, also my life is richer for what I believe . Hopefuly in my future work moves a few steps up but never takes over my life.
 
If you're looking for wisdom in the comments on trenchant posts, you've already spent 10,000 hours on the internet. Relax, not everybody can be Mozart. Forget Malcolm Gladwell and the whole excellence chase. Go with Blake... "To see a world in a grain of sand... "
 
I'm mastering being a good father and husband by not spending all my time working. Any hour over 40 spent working is another hour lost from spending time with my family. Life is too short to worry about anything else.
 
+Adam Truelove ,admirable,and the correct outlook, in my opinion,though we're all unique,like a snowflake!Also short lived.
 
Reminds me of the Beatles. Someone suggested that they what truly made them great was when they first toured, and it was in Hamburg Germany. They were there for months performing 20 hours at a time taking drugs that helped them stay awake (our version of those high caffeine drinks). After they had all those hours under their belt, they were ready for the world. Sadly today, people don't consider a lot of work and hard work a good thing. They whine and complain about having to put in hours to make themselves better.
 
Great book! I really took the points about natural advantage and being in the right place at the right time!
 
+Jam Bra ,depends on Ur outlook,we're all unique.Beatles were overrated,Led Zep were met in uk by adversity,and derision,so they toured the U.S. Non stop for a number of yesrs,playing all the great venues.3 hr encores at Madison sq,that's working hard,and playing hard.They returned to the U.K. as national heroes!This stream is getting silly.Each to his own,and more power to them!One life,make of it what u will. Be u a shitcleaner or MD,u can't put a price on hapiness,unless Ur scrooge mcDuck!
 
I don't think anyone is saying everyone should do this/live by this mantra... +Jason Calacanis says at the beginning of the post " I wanted to be a great entrepreneur.... I wanted to start great brands and build great products.

So, I put in my time.... "

If you don't want to achieve these things that's your prerogative, but if you do want to achieve these things then it's a basic but generally true rule that it will take personal effort, lots of personal effort.
 
Thanks for sharing this! Outstanding!
 
I agree with Gladwell on his 10,000 rule. I also agree with many comments that each person should learn what their own pace is. Do you value success and potential earnings over home/ family life? Then go ahead and pull 60+ hour weeks... Your call. Either way the 10k rule applies, but some people will take longer to get there. And remember, 10k hours without passion and a desire to get better is a waste of 10k hours.

Gladwell also points out that to get to Gates' and Jobs' levels of success also requires intelligence, luck, and timing. Just being good at something doesn't get you across that particular finish line... Just ask any buggy maker from 1910.
 
I am... but have opted out and do most of my personal learning and some of the more creative work at home. I believe I am paid a salary to do the job required effectively and to the best of my ability... not to complete a certain amount of hours in a week...
 
+Stuart Keeble I LOLed at the line staying it doesn't apply to those who can choose how long they work such as ... Those in the armed forces ...
 
Erm, I think a lot of the comments (and possibly Jason) have got the 10,000 hours study a little confused.

Working for 10k hours doesn't make you an expert. The study showed that experts (wrong word, but it'll do) had worked 10,000 hours. It never looked at all the people who had worked 10,000 or even 20,000 hours at something and had never 'made it'.

Aim to be the best at whatever you aim towards. Then someday, when you've made it, some bright young boffin might come along and point out you've been working at it for 10,000 hours. 
 
Yes, it takes deliberate practice for 10,000 hrs, not just "doing something". BTW, for people who haven't seen this before, here is a guy who did not show particular talent before, but decided to use the 10k theory to become a pro golfer. http://thedanplan.com
 
You have a job so you can enjoy life. You don't have a life if all you do is enjoy your job. Your family is your success.
 
I think it's sad that people are actually willing to worship success. Especially when they define success as getting rich. You should put in time developing skills that you enjoy and excite you, not to get rich but because it is meaningful to you. The idea of focusing on mastery in one field is outdated and technology changes so quickly that the moment you have mastered one thing something better has already replaced it.
I've only started learning programming in the last 3 months and I've already developed a web application that streamlines the 14+ web resources we use everyday that implements CSS, Javascript and Ajax. I achieved this and everything else I do only spending a minimum of 15 minutes a day. I've worked on so many different things that I get immense satisfaction and joy in and of themselves without constantly telling myself that one day I will be rich because of it. The key is consistency and personal fulfillment; not becoming a slave to your God of success, not making an arbitrary thousand hours rule which is not a realistic or reasonable goal.
 
+Jeff Chapman I think it's wrong to assume that you cannot get equal fulfilment from doing something you absolutely love to do. Different people have different motivations and different measures of happiness and success. I don't think it's right to say that one or the other is ultimately how everyone should be.
I think it is absolutely the case that because we have a mix of different types of people from both ends of the spectrum being discussed here, and many in-between, that society can function as it does.
 
I'd rather be good at a lot of things than be great at one or two things.
 
The point of the study was to debunk the idea that some people are "just born with it"
 
Last month I just started to work 20+ hours a day (just believe that). After 2 weeks, i just started to sleep 20+ hours at hospital.
 
It's not worth trading off with your health & your family, whatever skill u try to master
 
168 HOURS A WEEK AT MASTERING LIFE! I WIN!
 
10k hours can't fix your poor processes. Especially if your trial and error process is poor!

Also shorter work weeks are shown to be more productive per hour. Diminishing returns can be discouraging ?
 
I would rather work less and spend more time with my family
 
This is one of my favourite chapters in the book along with "maths test and rice paddies"
 
I couldn't disagree more with this post, at least for me personally. If I worked 60-80 hours every week I would never see my kids, and that would be a serious tragedy and I certainly could not view myself as a success then. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
 
Great insight Jason, I've always know intuitively that busting your ass pays off
 
Thank you. A little inspiration goes a long way.
 
There is no retirement in life and that how you stay alive.
 
To those that seem to disagree, claiming we shouldn't simply 'work' say 60-hour weeks: wouldn't you say you've spent those 60 hours a week on the things you find of importance? Wouldn't you say that it took you say 10k (or whatever amount of thousands) hours to become great at it? If you spread yourself thin, not putting in 60 hours a week would take you longer in elapsed time to become great at whatever it is you find important. If you are truly passionate about something and can arrange your life around it, 60 hours a week over a 3 year investment to become great at it is no problem.
I cannot say I became great at anything without having put thousands of hours in it first. Jason's focus on work does not surprise me in the least bit. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but if your focus is on work too, his take sounds about right to me.
 
"Moderation". I have found that writing down your weekly agenda, and getting things done NOW, greatly reduces procrastination, and in turn leaves more time to socialize, workout, family time, ext. Often times, my best business.deals come at times when I am "working." Get rich, or die trying.
 
+Jason Calacanis Working 10,000 hours and Deliberately Practicing for 10,000 hours are two different things. Experts can sustain 4 hours of practice in a day - beginners even less. Even if someone practiced 4 hours every day - it would take nearly 7 years to become an expert.
 
I'll add this article: http://www.alternet.org/visions/154518/why_we_have_to_go_back_to_a_40-hour_work_week_to_keep_our_sanity

There is decades of research that says that working more than 40 hours a week is bad for normal people, and saying that they aren't as passionate as some others is a load of crap. Normal people need time to rest, relax, and interact with other human beings, or they don't perform their best.

I'm sure there are some that this isn't the case for, and maybe Jason is one of them. For myself, I would hate missing out on the time I get to spend with my kids, my wife, and my friends to be at a job 60-80 hours per week. I suppose it's all about how you define success - is your legacy (family) worth more than the money you make (social legacy)?
 
Great comments +Jason Calacanis. It's inspiring to see those who've made great careers give advice back to those who are pushing their own passions. Some may argue that it takes time away from other important things, but it starts with loving life, and striking the balance that works for you, your family, and all other factors.

Thanks for the insight.
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