One of the most popular pieces of advice I hear thrown around about anything and everything (especially writing) is the 10,000 hour rule. The rule comes from the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The rule essentially states that in order to be successful at something, you have to first work 10,000 hours at it.

The basic idea of the rule is sound, which essentially states that is nothing in life is free and we must all work for what we want. However, it seems that according to Gladwell, you can’t be successful without those 10,000 hours of work. Most people who quote or tout this philosophy feel the same.

Personally, I think that is a bunch of garbage. The amount of work it takes for someone to achieve success varies with each individual. Some people may reach a level of success after a few hundred hours or a couple thousand hours. Others may take 20,000 hours until things click, if ever.

Therefore, I say putting a number on how long someone must work at something is not only presumptuous (that everyone needs the same amount of work), but also limiting. Besides, working hard is only a part of the equation of success. Let’s not even get into what defines success.

Personally, I much prefer a motto that has stuck with me since I was a kid. It is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard even though it comes from an unlikely source.

"Work smarter, not harder." – Scrooge McDuck.

Scrooge believes, like most, that it is possible for everyone to do almost anything, if there is just enough persistence involved. However, the amount of work you put into something becomes insignificant if you’re doing the wrong things. You must not only work hard at something, but you must also focus on doing things efficiently, while ignoring insignificant tasks.


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