World-class mastery of anything demands around 10,000 hours of practice — no easy feat.

Though talent is certainly a key ingredient in the recipe for success, hard work seems to be at least as important, if not more so. Bill Gates spent a lot of time learning computer programming. The Beatles spent a lot of time on stage. Though they were also extraordinarily talented individuals, it was extensive practice that made them truly world-class.

To achieve world-class mastery at anything, studies show you need to spend a “critical minimum” amount of time — around 10,000 hours — practicing. Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to spend this much time practicing something.

First of all, you need the opportunity to start early so you can get in as much practice as possible and secure a head start on the competition. Also, you or your family has to have the resources to support you; it’s hard to find time for work or chores when you’re spending 40 hours a week trying to become a world-famous violinist.

Depending on what you want to do, you might also need access to expensive state-of-the-art equipment. Encouragement from family, friends, coaches, teachers and kind strangers you meet on the street helps too.

If you’re lucky, like Bill Gates or the Beatles, you’ll have all these things. However, many people don’t, so they effectively lack the opportunity to achieve world-class mastery in their chosen fields.

Source: Blinkist app. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell