Veritasium-Four things you need to be an expert


Deliberate practice outside the comfort zone.

Yes. :100:


If you want to appear like an expert, do not mention the 10000 hr “rule” :sweat_smile: almost everyone who quotes it gets it wrong :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

There are very few experts out there and unless you have significant expertise in the same subject matter, it’s very difficult to recognize if them :slight_smile:

4:03 - Definition of the expertise
5:00 - Repeated attemps with feedback
6:46 - Valid environment
11:21 - Timely feedback

Chunking is important in music for reading standard notation and why it’s an effective way to communicate. Repetition with feedback is very important to improving and part of why children are very effective learners… “if I do this, then this happens”; it’s generally the answer to every “how do I get better at X” question :slight_smile:

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After doing the 10,000 hour “thing”, then see if you can teach it clearly, precisely, and succinctly with the student(s) demonstrating complete understanding. If that happens, then I’d say yes, you are an expert. At least that’s what I learned through my 39 years of teaching special education high school students. I’m sure there are many, many examples of that not being the case, but for me that’s what makes an expert. I’m also sure that teaching is also a big part of the 10,000 hour “experience”. Thanks for listening!

10000 hrs just means “do something a lot”; some people might need 1K, some might need 30K. Its like 10000 steps; the number isnt based on much more than its a nice big number between 1K (not enough) and 100K (too much) thats easy to remember and humans like that sort of thing.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” - Bruce Lee

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Unless I am mixing up my books, one of the parts everyone leaves out is ‘opportunity’.
There are a lot of garage/local musicians out there that have played for 10,000 hours. Are they better than me? Hell yeah! Are they experts - nope. The opportunity, in terms of either ability to demonstrate their craft, or have a mentor that guides them properly, etc is a big part of getting to be an expert.

Hi, my name is John and I am a hobbyist musican, and damn proud of it. Fin.


Yes, having a mentor is one of the things mentioned in the video.


Yes, that’s the important part right there. Not so much just the opportunity though but the necessity. If you’re in a band, it’s quite important that you perform well so you’re motivated to perform at a higher level plus you have a more clearly defined set of goals that you need to accomplish. Similarly here, if you post covers for critique, it gives you a good reason to improve your skills which relate to that. Ericsson discusses that most individuals rarely function at their maximum potential, even with significant experience, unless they have a good reason that pushes them to do that.

The original study by Ericsson as used by Gladwell to popularize the 10K hr “rule” is titled “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”, it focused on violin students. Now I think there are several things that Gladwell gets wrong with his assumptions but the biggest thing he leaves out (as you noted) is that the teacher is extremely important: what you practice is at least as important as how long you practice. Also, the 10K hrs (which I think was ~8400 hrs?) was an average of the participants. If you pick subjects who have reached a certain level of expertise, you’re likely to find that on average, they’ve done a thing for a significant amount of time… but instead, what if you pick people who have done a thing for a certain period of time and assess their level of expertise? There is a limiting factor here too in that people who are not very good at something tend not to do it for long… except for golfers :wink:

At the end of all that, it’s been suggested in several studies that practice still only makes up about 20-25% of the maximal level of performance that a person can reach. A significant factor for how good you’ll be is your passion for doing the thing; I started off playing guitar when I was young and never really enjoyed it so I didn’t do it for that long… I played violin for several years after that which I enjoyed and did very well. In high school I played bassoon (not my choice), enjoyed that and became proficient at that very quickly, as well with trombone. I tried French horn for a while, never enjoyed it and never did very well with that though I did pretty well with trumpet for the year or so that I played that. More recently I started playing guitar again. I played it for about 4 years… I do ok but I just don’t love it so I’m not motivated to excel at it. Bass I love so it’s pushed me to improve in areas that I wasn’t interested in before like theory and posting here on the forums has also given me another reason to study/improve.

There are many human factors that determine whether you’ll excel at something or not and how long it might take you and that’s why science seems to enjoy studying this and trying to figure out just exactly what it is that makes certain people good at things :slight_smile: but like we enjoy joking about at work, “all generalizations are false, including this one” :smile:


A mentor is an amazing accelerator to becoming proficient at a particular activity. I played saxophone as my principal instrument in college. As a Theory & Composition major, sax was not my dream instrument, but since I had prior experience playing it, it was a logical means to an end.

By luck, my sax prof was a world-class maestro. Under his tutelage, I progressed so much that it was weird. Still, I never gelled with sax enough to continue playing it once I was out of school.

I played guitar since I was 14, and it was what I used to write songs. I never had a mentor in all the years I’ve played guitar, and I wish I had.

With bass, I’ve resolved to study with teachers that connect with me on a real level. It has been rewarding and successful.


Actually, the thing Gladwell leaves out (and this is the fourth time I’ve written about it, on this forum…) is that the study was on expert violinists who all had a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice.

The study wasn’t looking for people with 10,000 hours of doing something, to see if they were experts at it.

As such, you should all wipe the concept of 10,000 hours out of your minds and not mention it again, ever.
It’s just a very sad way how a simple and utterly wrong idea can get traction.


Gladwell is extremely popular and I have never understood quite why.

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Oh, I like a lot of his work. It’s just THIS particular thing which I knew right away he’d gotten wrong. Now it has a life of its own…


I’ve read stuff of his I like, and I generally enjoy the New Yorker, but I wouldn’t say he’s the most accessible author, and yet he seems to have gotten very popular, which I find odd.


Many people find absolute statements comforting. Comforting statements that easily fit in a box gain traction. The 10,000 hours thing is comforting because it’s an absolute.

Kind of like the idea that I’m just a few push ups away from being fit. If only i could find the time.


That is definitely my view on life


What an expert knows is all the little tricks, all the little do’s and don’ts, that are acquired over the years. Kinda reminds me of being a Dad for a second and third time. I may not know everything about raising kids, but I do know what I can safely ignore :crazy_face:

  • Why did you charge me $279 for hitting that pipe with the hammer?
  • It was $9 for hitting it, and $270 for knowing which pipe, where and how hard.

What an expert mentor does is that he provides those little do’s and don’t as you are learning, without you having to arrive at them by repeatedly falling flat on your face.


Thanks @eric.kiser good find and another channel added to my already voluminous YT subscription portfolio.