Adding Up the Things We Love

Prompt: After reading The 100-Hour Knack, what do you think was the author’s purpose in writing this article? What point is he trying to make? How does he do it?

I remember being in AP World History class last year and the teacher saying it was insane to expect us to master anything in the course of a school year. And yeah, it is. We’ve all heard it: “It takes 10,000 hours to master something,” but have we every really thought about what that takes in the long run?

There are 8,760 hours and 15 minutes in every year. We spend a lot of that time sleeping, eating, and working.  Even if we were to work at something every hour of the day with no breaks, it would take us over 1 year and 52 days to master something. No one could do that. Instead, we break it up over years. And let’s be real, who has the time to do that with all of their hobbies or other things that take up their time?

Thomas Both of the at Stanford wrote an article about this called The 100-Hour Knack, which points out that we can’t devote 10,000 hours to everything we do, but we need some amount of time to learn how to do something. Giving the example of the doodles he did for his boss’s book, Both argues that when we don’t need to master something, just become proficient in it, 100 hours marks the time we move from putting more into something than we get out of it to getting more out of something than we put in it.

Using stories and examples, Both leads the reader down a path from pre-conseved notions to a new idea, creating a solid argument for why he is right. By telling his own story, the author gives us a glimpse into how he created this idea, showing how he’s used it. He also shows the lasting benefits of spending 100 hours on something by pointing out that he started using his new found skill (sketching) in other aspects of his life: “I unexpectedly found myself sketching for other things: my friend’s baby shower, my class syllabus, and more.” Showing that the skills you learn will be used for more then their first application makes it seem more worthwhile to put in the time.

Acknowledging that there will be frustrations at the beginning, Both suggests that you have a reason behind learning something knew, and that you keep in mind that it will be useful later. Don’t do things for the sake of doing it, he argues. Instead, do things that you care about.

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