Achieving the Top Percentile Requires Significant Effort
But Is Achieving the Top Percentile Worth It?
As you gain more experience and begin experiencing diminishing returns, you move to the higher end of the learning curve. This is the part of the learning curve that distinguishes those that are good or above average, with those that are in the top percentile of their skill.
The very top end of the learning curve is the place that is referred to by the 10,000 hour rule, which states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert or master at something:
The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert - in anything. - Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
An important distinction should be made between the point at which you start to experience diminishing returns, where you are certainly above average but not in the top percentile, and the point where you reach the top percentile and are a world-class expert, where the learning curve is almost a horizontal line with no slope. The 10,000 hour rule refers to the latter point, and states that we reach that point after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
At the top, improvements are usually made on minor details that average people would not notice. This is what separates the above average from the top percentile, and often takes many more years to achieve.
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