We have all heard of, and probably some of us have tried to apply, the famous “10,000-hour rule” by Malcolm Gladwell, which states that spending 10,000 hours working on any skill can help us master it. As promising and as reasonable as it sounds, for most of us this seems way too far fetching and time-consuming to even try, especially with the rapid developments and changes happening daily in any business or profession. Studying the lives and habits of successful leaders and entrepreneurs, Michael Simmons of Empact has found a new, slightly altered approach that is less time-consuming, but just as effective as the “10,000-hour rule”. Simmons called it simply the “5-hour rule” 1.
Realizing the downsides and misconceptions about the 10,000-hour rule, Simmons was able to find a pattern among the famous visionaries that included deliberate practice or learning for five hours a week or an hour a day. For most of us, the mere idea of having to spend the 10,000 hours on learning or practicing seems overwhelming. The 5-hour approach, on the other hand, gives results simply because it creates a habit of constant work on developing and improving skills, without the work-hard-till-you-burn-out mindset. Each of us can set aside one hour a day to work on improving ourselves, in any way we want to.
Many entrepreneurs today tend to neglect all aspects of their life that don’t belong to their work. In this way, they harm their close relationships and their health. That is why the 5-hour rule is so effective since it provides people with the opportunity to build new skills or improve new ones without having to sacrifice family, friendships, their love life, or their health.
As Simmons suggests, we should look at deliberate learning as a form of exercise. As our bodies need a minimum dosage of exercise per day for all of our organs to perform well, so do our brains need to be stimulated with newer and bigger challenges on a daily basis to be able to generate new ideas.
Some of the most successful people take the time each day to meditate, do yoga, or engage in any activity that helps their brain rest so that they can focus better on their daily challenges. Oprah Winfrey sets aside a couple of minutes every morning to start her day with meditation as it helps her be more mindful during the day. To become more aware, more productive and improve any skill, we should take a few minutes each day to prepare our mind for the new day, by simply quieting our thoughts and focusing on breathing.
Another great practice we can learn from people like Oprah Winfrey, David Rubenstein, and Dan Gilbert, as Simons suggests2, is reading. All of them spend at least one hour a day reading. Apart from it being a great relaxing activity as it helps us to quiet the noise of our thoughts, reading can also help us develop our skills and become experts.
As many highly successful people suggest, success doesn’t come from working harder, but working more productively. Instead of letting their work interfere with every other important part of their life, successful people have learned how to balance between being productive and enjoying quality time with their family. In this way, they are always in the present moment, and fully dedicated to each aspect of their life. Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO at Virgin Money, uses the first hour after she wakes up to answer emails and read the news so that she can enjoy in regular morning activities with her family, without being distracted by work.
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