December 21, 2008
10,000 hours = 3 years?
Chris Anderson, always a guy who can be counted on for an interesting thought, has just suggested people need to change jobs every 3 years. He then equates this, through some fairly tendentious maths, to Malcolm Gladwell's "it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something".
I used to work on the basis that a new job/pursuit/horizon every 3-5 years is a good way to keep fresh and keen on life, but I'm less convinced that this implies mastery of the current job. I never felt that after 3 years I had mastered my job (though Anderson's observation about journalists' writing becoming cynical is a good one) because I don't believe I've ever mastered anything. Mastery takes talent and a lifetime of application. The truly great masters will tell you there is always something new to be learned about a craft - that's what keeps it fresh.
I prefer to think that the 3-year thing is more about keeping horizons visible than about mastery. It's more intrinsic to the person than the craft. That's not to say it isn't important - it certainly is - but that it's important to understand that the benefit is internal and does not (necessarily) imply mastery.
In fact, I'd suggest that Anderson's observation about the state of reporting after three years says more about the culture of journalism in this age than it does about anything else ...Posted by Hughie at December 21, 2008 7:39 AM