10,000 HOURS in 100 QUOTES


The deliberate practice literature is full of examples of the 10,000 hours rule in action and self awareness of what led to mastery. I wanted to use this space to share these quotes from and about individuals who have mastered their craft. They help me daily with inspiration, motivation and clarity. They succeeded after their 10,000+ hours. I’m only climbing towards my target with every day, every hour and every swing. Send me those that inspire you…

  1. Pete Sampras: “It just clicks. It’s about repetition as a kid; it’s about good technique; it’s about having everything in place. It’s about confidence and muscle memory. It’s the 10,000 hours.”
  2. Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  3. Tiger Woods: “People don’t understand that when I grew up, I was never the most talented. I was never the biggest. I was never the fastest. I certainly was never the strongest. The only thing I had was my work ethic, and that’s been what has gotten me this far.”
  4. Serena Williams: “Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”
  5. Andre Agassi: “My father says that as  if I hit 2,500 balls each day, I’ll hit 17,500 each week, and at the end of the year I’ll have hit nearly one million balls. He believes in math. Numbers, he says, don’t lie. A child who hits one million balls each year will be unbeatable.”
  6. About Moe Norman: ‘The systematic practice that he begun at 16 was to hit 800 balls a day. From the age of 19 to 32, his routine was to hit 800 balls a day on weekdays…then play 54 holes on Saturday and 72 holes on Sunday. During this time, he was hitting 4,000 practice balls a week. Incidentally he claims to have recorded the number of balls he has hit in practice through the years, which now (in 1996) totals 4 million balls.’
  7. Stephen Colbert: “Writing and producing the show is an intellectual  process. Performing the show is far more athletic and intuitive, because you don’t get to do it twice. It helps if you’ve done whatever the old saw is, 10,000 hours of it. Because I’ve done 10,000 hours of comedy, I have this database in my mind of what works and what doesn’t work.”
  8. Paula Radcliffe: “You can’t become a winner overnight, or even in a couple of years; It takes time. You will lose races and you will have to accept that, learn from it and believe that you will win the next one, knowing that you will probably lose that as well. All the time you have to keep believing that one day you will win.”
  9. Jason Day: “My Dad would take me down to the golf course every afternoon…I would stay there from whenever I got off school to when it got dark. And that’s what I did every single day…I got addicted to the process of getting better.”
  10. Oprah Winfrey: “Do the one thing you think you can do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”
  11. Lionel Messi: “It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.”
  12. Matthew Syed: “In January 1995, I became the British number-one table tennis player. But what made me special? What marked me out for sporting greatness? In 1978 my parents decided to buy a table tennis table…this was my first bit of good fortune…my second piece of good fortune was having an older brother who came to love table tennis as much as I. Without knowing it, we were blissfully accumulating thousands of hours of practice.”
  13. Greg Norman: My doctor asked me how many golf balls I had hit in my career. I’m lying there in bed calculating somewhere between four and five million golf balls I had hit.”
  14. Wayne Gretzky: “I wasn’t naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for.”
  15. Judit Polgar: “I grew up in a very special atmosphere. Everything was about chess. I learned from my sisters and won my first international competition at nine years old.”
  16. Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actively in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”
  17. Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  18. David Beckham: “When people talk about my free kicks they focus on the goals. But when I think about those free kicks I think about all those failures. It took tons of misses before I got it right.”
  19. John Amaechi: “When I started at Penn State University, nobody on the team was a match for me. So my coach recruited a ‘walk-on’…the walk on would jump on to the court and play defence so we were playing five on six…It forced me to up my game, to engage with greater awareness…It pushed me past my limits, forcing me to think faster, sharper, deeper and with greater creativity. In turn, my limits just kept expanding.”
  20. James Dyson: “I love the creative process. I love coming in here every day and testing new ideas…But we are still developing the vacuum cleaner. We didn’t stop at the 5,127th prototype…What excites me most is that we are still only at the beginning.”
  21. Sam Snead: “It is only human nature to want to practice what you can already do well, since it’s a hell of a lot less work and a hell of a lot more fun. Sad to say, though, that it doesn’t do a lot to lower your handicap.”
  22. About Shizuka Arakawa: ‘Consider what she had been through by the time she won the gold medal in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics…She was 24 and had been training as an ice skater since age five…By an extremely conservative estimate, Arakawa’s road to the gold medal involved at least twenty thousand falls…But they paid off.’
  23. Justin Thomas: “I won’t play an 18-hole practice round unless I’m playing for something. That goes for when I’m at home, too. It doesn’t have to be for much, but it has to be for something, because I want to hit every shot like it matters. I never hot shots just messing around. If you make a swing without serious intent, you’re going backward.”
  24. Michelangelo: “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all”.
  25. About Mozart: ‘By the time he was six, Mozart would already have practised for a total of around 3,500 hours.’
  26. Bill Joy: “At Michigan, I was probably programming eight or ten hours a day…By the time I was at Berkeley I was doing it day and night. I had a terminal at home. I’d stay up until two or three o’clock in the morning.”
  27. Billie Jean King: “Champions keep playing until they get it right.”
  28. About Warren Buffet: ‘Warren went to work in his father’s office at age eleven and thus began learning about investing at a very early age…By the time Buffet began accumulating a world-class record of performance, he was well into his thirties- and had been working diligently in his chosen field for more than twenty years.’
  29. J.K. Rowling: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
  30. Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two tings above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way round these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
  31. Jack Nicklaus: “I’m a firm believer in the throes that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”
  32. About Johnny Wilkinson: ‘I have lost count of the times I had to tell him to stop practicing and come inside when we were together at Newcastle. And when he wasn’t practicing kicking he was talking about it’.
  33. Conor McGregor: “There is no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
  34. About Bill Bradley: ‘He had no real natural gift for the game of basketball. He would have to compensate for his inadequacies through sheer practice…he proceeded to devise one of the most rigorous and efficient routines in the history of sports…three and a half hours or practice after school and on Sundays, eight hours every Saturday and three hours a day during the summer.’
  35. About Kobe Bryant: ‘He is practicing with purpose. Kobe had a very clear goal at practice: 800 made jump shots. He was deliberately focused on developing the skill of making baskets. The time he spent doing it was almost an after thought.’