This is a subscriber-only article. Join Entrepreneur+ today for access

Learn More

Already have an account?

Sign in
Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

Malcolm Gladwell Says It Takes 10,000 Hours to Master a Skill — But That's Wrong. Here's How to Quickly Learn Something New. Strategies for accelerating your learning curve with deliberate practice techniques.

By Aytekin Tank

Key Takeaways

  • I use evidence-backed strategies to learn new skills quickly.
  • Enlisting the best teacher is essential.
  • Take breaks early and often.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In The Sports Gene, author David Epstein examines the 10,000-hour idea. Popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, the idea is that mastering anything requires, on average, 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. Epstein discusses a study on violin students at the Music Academy of Berlin. The general finding was that the best violinists practiced much more than the good ones. Epstein pointed out that among that best group, some violinists "may use their practice time so efficiently that they reach a high degree of excellence more quickly."

In today's ultra-competitive work climate, skill acquisition is critical. The World Economic Forum predicts that 50% of all jobs will require a change in skill sets by 2027. In 2018, a Gartner analysis of more than 7.5 million U.S. job postings in IT, finance and sales roles required an average of 17 skills. In 2021, the same roles required an average of 21 skills, including at least eight new ones. Although not every skill demands a "10,000-hour" level of expertise — required skills are too dynamic to expect as much — becoming proficient quickly is critical. And perhaps, as in the violinist study, speed of acquisition will be what separates the most successful entrepreneurs from the rest.

As CEO of Jotform, I'm always looking for ways to achieve more in less time. The faster I learn, the more I can save my brain for the big stuff — more personally meaningful tasks like writing, strategizing and hiring.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


4 Out of 5 Entrepreneurs Step Down as CEO — Here Are 3 Things You Need to Do So You're Not One of Them.

Navigating the journey from entrepreneur to CEO is a profound transformation, one that often separates visionary founders from effective business leaders.

Business News

Chipotle Customer Throws Food At Employee in Brawl, Judge Offers Employment Instead of Jail Time

The video of the September 5 altercation quickly went viral on Reddit.

Health & Wellness

Embrace the Art of Saying No: 4 Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries

Enforcing your own boundaries can be hard, but it's so important to master this skill. If you practice these four steps, you'll find it doesn't have to be so difficult.

Side Hustle

This Millennial Dad Just Wanted to Help His Daughter Care for Her Bearded Dragon. Then His Cricket-Breeding Side Hustle Exploded — Earning $27,000 in One Month.

It wasn't Jeff Neal's first attempt at a side gig, and before long, the "prototypical millennial side-hustler" realized his product had major potential.