Unfortunately for us mortals, it doesn't seem to be true. The original idea behind the 10,000-hour rule, before Gladwell sprinkled his pop science pixie dust on it, came from a study of violinists in 1993. And if there's one group that truly represents the everyman, it's classical musicians. Even worse, the sample was a laughably small 30 students at the Music Academy of West Berlin. Ten were students fit to be international soloists (the jocks), ten were music teaching students (the dorks), and ten were middle-aged performers at the Berlin Symphony (goths, we guess).
An overly niche study isn't a big deal, but unfortunately for aspiring Bradys everywhere, the study's been cited countless times and inspired multiple bestselling books, and nobody's bothered to try to replicate it until recently. When they did, with larger sample sizes, they found that practice makes much less of a difference than previously believed, and that factors beyond the participants' control -- such as "genetic, personality, life history, etc." -- mattered more. The ugly truth is that for the vast majority of us, no amount of practice will leave us as skilled as Tom Brady. The good news is that that also means none of us have to be Tom Brady.