Bill Gates, Warren Buffett And Oprah All Use The 5-Hour Rule
Top business leaders often spend five hours per week doing deliberate learning.
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In the article “Malcolm Gladwell got us wrong”, the researchers behind the 10,000-hour rule set the record straight: different fields require different amounts of deliberate practice in order to become world class.
If 10,000 hours isn’t an absolute rule that applies across fields, what does it really take to become world class in the world of work?
Over the last year, I’ve explored the personal history of many widely-admired business leaders like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg in order to understand how they apply the principles of deliberate practice.
What I’ve done does not qualify as an academic study, but it does reveal a surprising pattern.
Many of these leaders, despite being extremely busy, set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that could be classified as deliberate practice or learning.
I call this phenomenon the 5-hour rule.
How the best leaders follow the 5-hour rule
For the leaders I tracked, the 5-hour rule often fell into three buckets: reading, reflection, and experimentation.
According to an HBR article, “Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and bow.”
Oprah Winfrey credits books with much of her success: “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” She has shared her reading habit with the world via her book club.
These two are not alone. Consider the extreme reading habits of other billionaire entrepreneurs: