The 10% Rule: The Smartest Path to Success

People whose expertise spans several subjects are more likely to be successful.

Thomas Oppong
4 min readJul 26, 2021

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Photo: Freepik

Success is the ultimate dream. No matter what you do, you want to peak and benefit from your skill. It takes time to master valuable skills. And a lot of time to become the master of a single skill.

Only a small group of skilful people are making a living from a single skill in the world. Athletes take a very long time to reach peak performance. And when they finally nail their skills, they become unstoppable.

The world’s best athletes are the top performers. They’ve spent years, sometimes a decade, mastering their skills. It takes twice the time, effort and skill training to master a single single.

If you are not on the path to becoming exceptionally good at one thing, there is another way to succeed:

  1. Learn a few useful or valuable skills to become extraordinary.
  2. Stack relevant skills.
  3. And get better at crossing or integrating knowledge unexpectedly.

Tomas Pueyo explains it beautifully, “It’s easier and more effective to be in the top 10% in several different skills — your “stack” — than it is to be in the top 1% in any one skill.”

The good news about mastering valuable skills is that you don’t have to be in the top 1% to benefit from your skills. You just have to be good enough and combine your valuable skills in a way that brings out the best in you.

“All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together.” Scott Adams said.

People who are extremely great at just a single skill are not good at other complementary skills. Specialists in the top 1% have few opportunities to succeed. And when they do, they become authority figures — sometimes they get global recognition. But that life requires 100% commitment early in life.

It’s better to have 3 to 5 good skills than a perfect one with a narrow opportunity to succeed.

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Thomas Oppong

Author | Habits, Philosophy & Psychology. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: https://thomasoppong.com