His argument is simple. Getting good at something takes time. By way of example, he cites the case of The Beatles who performed live in a club in Hamburg more than 1200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, and thereby getting really, really good at what they did.
Gladwell argues that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of practicing, with the proviso that you need constructive feedback so you don't simply practice your mistakes. So, doing some simple sums, if you practice something for 20 hours a week, it will take you around 10 years to get really expert at it.
|Malcolm Gladwell. Photo: Kris Krüg|
Gladwell also notes that he himself took exactly 10 years to meet the 10,000-Hour Rule, working as a journalist at the American Spectator magazine and The Washington Post, polishing his craft as a writer.
Animation is no different. Getting good at it takes time and diligence. The Nine Old Men at the Disney Studio became the best by virtue of years of practice, competition - and being pushed by Walt to be the very best they could be.
It's the same for all of us. My father understood this when - in his mid-40's - he brought legendary Hollywood animators Art Babbitt and Ken Harris to his London studio to train his staff - and himself. Below is a picture of Dad taken when I was a kid.
So what is the answer? The solution, of course, is to practice in your own time. Consider the tutition you get at University to be just the beginning of the time you will need to invest to get really good at what you do. It's a springboard, and an opportunity to get great feedback, but time spent in the classroom is not the whole story.
The good news is this: if you are prepared to invest the time and effort to practice your craft, you will in all likelihood get really, really good at it.
And, if you don't believe me, buy Malcom's book and read it for yourself.