10000 hours. That’s the common knowledge rule on the amount of time it takes to develop expertise. This was a thought developed by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. Now that’s 10000 hours to World Class, Olympic Grade, Nobel Prize type expertise. Now…to get to competency. To get to competency is a different
story. That’s 20 hours. There’s a great video by Josh Kaufman that demonstrates this. You can watch it here.
I hit 10000 hours in the IT field at around year 3(I’m in year 10 currently). Now that’s a very broad field. I’m not an expert in everything. I will say that in the very small pond I swim in I’m deemed an expert in the things that I’ve spent the most time on. I’ve possibly hit 10000 hours on those things.
There are other things that I’m not an expert on, but I’ve past the 20 hour rule on. I’m probably at 2000-3000 hours on WordPress type things. I realized this the other day when I was helping a friend with some problems on their site. I asked some simple (to me) questions. They didn’t know the answers. I accessed the server side of their installation and created for myself a new admin account, investigated, and fixed their problem. Their statement was something along the lines of “I’m glad you’re a WordPress guru and can help us with these things.”
I don’t claim to be an expert at WordPress. I’m familiar enough to be competent, but I feel I have a long way to go. At the same time, I know how to learn and know I’m in process, so I don’t have to get scared when things aren’t as familiar as I’d like. I remember what it was like installing WordPress myself the first time. Setting up my first site, trying to understand why taking away a widget made things disappear…what a widget even is?!?! So when I’m insecure I can think, “I’ve been in a worse situation. There’s a great community of helpful people around. I can fix this.” That thought hasn’t failed me so far.
What about you? There’s a whole world of things to learn. What are you developing expertise in?