How long does it take for anyone to become an expert in a field? Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his 2008 acclaimed book ‘Outliers’ that professionals who put in 10,000 hrs of effort, practice and learning into a skill, will become true experts in it. While he drew some criticism from a few researchers who took his rule a bit too literal, the overall logic seems to make sense: becoming accomplished in any field requires a tremendous amount of effort put in over a long period of time.
Let’s not go into detail of whether a heart surgeon needs 13,542 hours for him to be a true expert or whether an SEO expert just needs 3,833 hours to be a leading expert in his field. That is impossible to say and depends on each profession and individual talent.
What is clear though is that no one fell from the sky being an accomplished heart surgeon or digital marketer. Each profession requires skills, knowledge and practice, demonstrated and acquired over extended periods of time – mostly years.
What should count towards those 10,000 hours? At first look, we may think it is just education and work. But other small but important actions that we take improve our skills and demonstrate them should also be taken into account. We learn and practice our profession daily in small doses. Let’s take Paul – a Change Management expert working for a large firm as an example and consider some of his activities that are contributing to his skills development.
- He subscribes to magazines and journals in his field which he reads at least for 2 hours every month.
- He attends at least 2 conferences a year about change management spending at least 20 hrs in such lecture rooms.
- He recently gave two presentations about ‘Change management for digital transformation’ at a conference. He spent 2 days researching, preparing and editing it with feedback from his colleagues.
- He also regularly writes articles on the company’s blog about innovation, engagement and change management which reaches up to 1K people and receives up to 50 ‘Likes’ or ‘Upvotes’.
- He also took a MOOC from Coursera as he wanted to learn about emerging practices and theories.
Each one of these actions by itself is nothing to brag about. Each by itself you wouldn't add to your resume as a line on your CV. It’s too small to count. Wrong! Yes, it is too small to make your headline on your CV, but it really should count because you are demonstrating and practicing your skills as well as learning and acquiring knowledge.
It's these small pieces that really got us going here at Zyncd. We believe any small chunks of learning and practice should count towards your expertise and your career prospects.
We invite you to start making all these small things count! Learn more here.