Top business leaders often spend five hours per week doing deliberate learning. Michael Simmons from medium.com has spent last year exploring 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.
Michael found a surprising pattern among these leaders: Despite being extremely busy, they 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 - a phenomenon is called the 5-Hour Rule.
For the leaders he tracked, the 5-hour rule often fell into three buckets: reading, reflection, and experimentation.
1. Reading - Consider the extreme reading habits of other billionaire entrepreneurs:
- Warren Buffett spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports.
- Bill Gates reads 50 books per year.
- Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.
- Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother.
- Billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein reads six books a week.
And this is what Oprah Winfrey has to say about the subject: "Books were my pass to personal freedom."
2. Reflection and thinking time - Consider the thinking habit of these successful business men:
- AOL CEO Tim Armstrong makes his senior team spend four hours per week just thinking.
- LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner schedules two hours of thinking time per day.
- Brian Scudamore, the founder of the 250 million-dollar company, O2E Brands, spends 10 hours a week just thinking.
3. Experiment - These companies encourage experimentation among their employees - no wonder why they are so cutting edge!
- Google famously allowed employees to experiment with new projects with 20% of their work time.
- Facebook encourages experimentation through Hack-A-Months.
We need to move beyond the cliche, "Life-long learning is good," and think more deeply about what the minimum amount of learning the average person should do per day in order to have a sustainable and successful career. Just five hours of deliberate learning a week can set you apart!
Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, steps per day, and exercise for living a healthy life physically, we should be more strict about how we as an information society think about the minimum doses of deliberate learning for living a healthy life economically.
The long-term effects of NOT learning are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle. The CEO of AT&T makes this point loud and clear in an interview with the New York Times; he says that those who don't spend at least 5 to 10 hours a week learning online "will obsolete themselves with technology."
If the busiest, most successful people in the world find at least an hour to learn EVERYDAY. So can you!
If you need help implementing the 5-Hour Rule, Michael Simmons provides a free webinar