Ten thousand hours

I’ve been reading (or to be completely accurate, listening) to a few Malcolm Gladwell books recently.

I’m intrigued by his assertion in Outliers that reaching the pinnacle in a given field often has more to do with hard work, practice and environmental factors than it does necessarily with innate talent. Van Tharp provides a great summary of this portion of the book and its accompanying examples in a Tharp’s Thoughts Weekly Newsletter from last month, so I won’t repeat all that.

A more indepth look at this topic is covered in Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated which I’m now interested in reading. Seems like Colvin turned his original Fortune article (which I even ran across back in 2006) into a fully fledged book (although there also now seems to be a more expanded up-to-date article).

Ten thousand hours seems to be the magic amount of practice needed to become highly proficient at something. So I’ve been trying to guesstimate how much time I’ve spent trading to date. My interest in trading blossomed in the middle of 2002. Let’s say it’s been six and a half years, or around 338 weeks.

There have been occasions when I’ve put insane amounts of time into this pursuit; other times when I’ve taken a break for weeks at a time. It has primarily been a part time endeavour, so I’m going to ballpark it and say that I’ve dedicated around 15 hours a week to trading.

Fifteen hours a week for 338 weeks means that I’ve put in just over 5000 hours of practice.

Hmmmm. Half way there!

I also just want to highlight one part of Blink, Malcolm Gladwell’s previous book, as it contains a section that directly mentions traders.

It turns out that traders (or at least the floor traders used in the research) make excellent military commanders. Their ability to make rapid decisions using limited information on the trading floor turns out to be remarkably similar to the conditions that a military commander faces in the heat of battle.

I found the parallels to be striking, especially after have so recently read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and the application of its principles in fti’s thread of Forex Factory.