10,000 hours to mastery

Malcolm Gladwell said: “The 10,000-hours rule says that if you look at any kind of cognitively complex field, from playing chess to being a neurosurgeon, we see this incredibly consistent pattern that you cannot be good at that unless you practice for 10,000 hours, which is roughly ten years, if you think about it four hours a day”

I coach many accountants on the road to becoming better advisors and encourage them to practice their craft as much as possible, so that they can attain a level of mastery more quickly (and therefore deliver the right value to the client).

Some argue their accounting experience counts towards those hours, but coaching and accounting need different patterns of thinking and require different skills. Experience of the latter will certainly enhance the former, but a good accountant is usually not a natural coach.

As a former accountant, I can see that we were trained as experts in our field. Experts usually struggle to be good coaches or salespeople, where a facilitative approach is needed, often hampered by the ingrained habit of taking a problem and solving it.

Another headwind for professionals trained as experts is the inevitable fear of unfamiliar territory. Many are reluctant to stray into conversations with clients where they don’t feel qualified to advise. Indeed, the preferred term adopted by most firms for their approach to client work is “advisory”, which is unhelpful in learning a facilitative approach. Pure coaching is of course non-directional and domain expertise agnostic.

Any business owner selecting a coach/consultant is probably wise to take into account the experience each potential supplier has in business coaching, as they would in selecting a clinical professional, legal advisor or tradesperson.



About paulhopwood

Teaching, guiding and mentoring professional service firms and successful business owners, providing them with time to think. Love family, reading and walking. Brighton UK www.paulhopwoodconsulting.co.uk
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