What 10,000 hours looks like

The most memorable theory in Outliers is that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field.  If you want to see what a genuine guitar expert looks like (and I highly recommend you watch this), look no further than John Butler’s “Ocean.”

I’ve probably watched that Youtube video more than any other — it’s my favorite song. “Ocean” is absolutely amazing to watch and still gives me chills at its crescendo. The coolest thing about it is that no one will ever play it like Butler, though many have tried. While this kid knows how to play it, he doesn’t have the ability to truly play it. And neither do I.

You see Butler’s soul pour out of his body when he plays. The rhythm, emotion, and intensity he performs with will never be reproduced by any other guitar player, simply because he’s played it more times than they ever will. That’s what 10,000 hours does for you. It gives you the ability to do something that people can imitate, but never replicate.

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Charlie Hoehn is a speaker and the author of Play It Away (“Here's the cure to your stress!” -Tony Robbins) and Recession Proof Graduate. He has presented at the Pentagon and three TEDx events. His article about the importance of play is the #1 result on Google for the search “cure anxiety." He was the former Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss, and helped launch The 4-Hour Body (#1 NYTimes bestseller, million copies sold). Charlie's work has been featured on NPR TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

This Post Has 12 Comments

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  3. Drew

    I feel the same way about John Butler. . . but the video I personally feel captures the true essence of this song and his ability and passion…is in this version:

  4. Drew

    I feel the same way about John Butler. . . but the video I personally feel captures the true essence of this song and his ability and passion…is in this version:

  5. Paul Latta

    Charlie,
    Thanks for the great guest post on 80/20 guitar on Tim’s blog and thanks for introducing me to this guy’s music. Awesome. I’m sure you’ve heard of Tommy Emmanuel. If you and your readers haven’t here’s a link to one clip on YouTube:

    Your post has got me picking my guitars back up. Thanks!

  6. Paul Latta

    Charlie,
    Thanks for the great guest post on 80/20 guitar on Tim’s blog and thanks for introducing me to this guy’s music. Awesome. I’m sure you’ve heard of Tommy Emmanuel. If you and your readers haven’t here’s a link to one clip on YouTube:

    Your post has got me picking my guitars back up. Thanks!

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  8. Eric Worral

    Thanks for reintroducing this song for me… been working my tail off the last month and feeling run down.

    The windows are glazed over with ice and sunlight is beginning to cascade over the rooftops. The sun is perfectly hitting the windows while John plucks his 12 strings with ferocity and pure emotion.

    All is right in the world.

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  10. Mike

    Charlie,
    I don’t know if you’ve seen Gladwell’s awesome presentation (http://poptech.org/popcasts/popcasts.aspx?lang=&viewcastid=206) about Outliers, but it’s worth checking out as a review of the book. I’m assuming it’s mostly a recap of the book, since I haven’t read Outliers yet. It’s obvious just from watching that video that Outliers isn’t nearly as bad as so many people say it is.

    Thanks for posting the Butler video, he’s fucking good.

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