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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 Edited by Jessica Thomas

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.

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