Becoming World Class – 10,000 Hours?

The Christmas / New Year period is a great time to relax and reflect especially here in New Zealand where most of the country (other than the hospitality, farming and retail industries) take a well-earned collective rest.  It is also the time I recharge my batteries and really think about my personal plan and what activity I will be focusing on during the next year.

As a Coach, I have always been interested in what it takes to be “World Class” and I have decided that in 2017 I am going to dig deeper and try to qualify my own thinking.

I invite you, if you are interested in this subject to reach out and contact me with your own thoughts, I am more than happy to have others contribute to this research, or maybe you are just happy taking part in exploring what the magic formula really is.

I do have some very good connections to a number of real-life world class sports people, but my interest extends far beyond sports to all places people dream to achieve.

Malcolm Gladwell (author – The Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, David and Goliath etc) came to the conclusion based on his research that it takes 10,000 hours to become ‘world class’ in your field of choice.

Anders Ericsson (Professor of Psychology, Florida State University) concluded that “many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years”.

This is what I believe as of today.
As a Coach, I feel that there is much merit in championing the 10,000 hours theory as a part of the formula, especially for youth.  However, I would also add that without the right motivation on behalf of the actual person striving to become world class reaching 10,000 hours may not be achievable.  My stomach tells me it may take adults longer, as they also have to battle patterns of thought and habits that they need to change.

NB: I have been in the Recruitment and Talent Management industry for over 25 years and Motivation is well known globally for being the key to employing the right people for a job.

Before you go anywhere I think you need to have an ounce of talent to work from, it maybe only small but this combined with the right motivation in place I believe is your starting point.

Also, simply just practising a thing will not necessarily make you world class. I fully believe each and every one of us needs a guide or Coach with the skills to take you the next level.  You will also need to upgrade or change your Coach as you reach the full potential with that individual Coach, and continue to develop your own self-management and coaching skills throughout this journey.   Great Coaches are also developing themselves constantly but from my own humble experience in sports, and a career in talent management that extends well beyond the 10,000 hours, believe that as a Coach it is likely a change will be needed when growth slows and or progress is not being made.

So, not only does the individual need to have an ounce of talent, a burning motivation and the determination to work hard to become world class, so does the people supporting and nurturing that talent.

I also believe in the phrase used by our World champion team here in New Zealand “Better people, make Better All Blacks – Sir Graeme Henry” who in the past fifteen years had spent most of this time ranked at number one in the world for their sport.  However, until Sir Graeme took the helm we “choked” at the final stages in world cups for a period of twenty years.

Possibly also upgrade this phrase to “Great people, make great champions”  Richie McCaw arguably New Zealand’s greatest All Black Captain never wanted to be an All Black, from an early age he wanted to be a “Great All Black” and he achieved that dream.

This has brought me to the thinking that to be truly world-class do you also need to develop as a great all round person?  I think for longevity sake this would not be a bad course to set your thinking on.

Taking Richie’s thoughts into account it also adds a major factor “It has to be the person’s dream” not Mum or Dads dream.  If Mum or Dad introduce one of their kids to something they then fall in love with and the kid dreams of becoming world class then you have the precious flicker take can be developed into something further.  Nurtured well, given the right positive coaching and hard work across all facets of the person’s being and well-being (life / work balance) a willingness to work a minimum of 10,000 hours of quality training (not just doing time) then, just then, you may have the formula to become a World Champion at whatever it is you love to do.

Please feel free to comment or email me with your thoughts.  This article is just the beginning I am keen to hear your views. 

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