How Business Leaders Use 5 Hour Rule For Deliberate Learning?

How Business Leaders Use 5 Hour Rule For Deliberate Learning - TaskQue Blog

Have you ever heard the term “deliberate learning”? I am sure most of you might be familiar with it but for those who do not know, deliberate learning is the time and effort you invest in specifically to learn and master a new skill. With our busy lifestyles, finding time for learning new skills seems like a far off dream but it is not.

Take look at most successful business leaders today whether it is Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg, Oprah Winfrey or Warren Buffet. You will find all of them involved in deliberate learning. How do they take time out for it? The answer lies in 5-hour rule. You might be thinking, what is that 5-hour rule? Let me explain. The idea behind the 5-hour rule is that you will have to dedicate 5 hours per week for deliberate learning to master a new skill.

Despite their busy schedules, they take time out to learn new skills to stay one step ahead of the curve. Here is how you can do it too.

Stages of 5 Hour Rule

Most business leaders who achieved success with deliberate learning breaks down the 5 hour rule into three different stages.

  1. Read
  2. Reflect
  3. Experiment
  • Read

Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.”—Harry Truman

You might have seen quotes such as “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” inscribed on the library doors and walls but have you ever realized that it contains a hidden message which most of us ignore. Oprah Winfrey terms books and her reading habit as one of the principle reasons behind her success. She once said, “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” She is not alone.

Bill Gates is a bookworm and reads 50 books per year and one per week. Elon Musk is an avid reader too. When asked about how he learned to build rockets, he replied, “I read books.” Warren Buffet took his reading habit to a new level. When Warren Buffet was questioned about his secret of success, he pointed towards the stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That is how knowledge works. It builds like compound interest.” Although, these are high targets for a normal person but at least you should develop your reading habit slowly in order to master the art of deliberate learning.

  • Reflect

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”—Confucius

Bill Gates is famous for taking time some time off to reflect. Twice every year, Bill Gates isolates himself from everything that constitutes the world around him, whether it is his friends, family or acquaintances. He calls it a “Think Week”. He is not alone either. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO schedules two hours of thinking time every day to reflect on the day’s activities.  

Mark Zukerberg is famous for taking less sleep as he sometimes stays awake till 6 am. But what does he do all night? He reflects and chats with his Facebook employees. When Reid Hoffman wants to discuss an idea that just popped up in his mind, he calls one or more of his best friends including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel to discuss and reflect.

Every successful business leader has this habit of reflecting on your actions. Make a list of activities you want to perform next before going to bed. The next night when you come to bed, analyze and reflect on how many activities you managed to complete. This will help you to identify the areas you need to improve on and achieve success easily.  

  • Experiment

Observation is a passive science, experimentation an active science.”—Claude Bernarde

The last stage of 5-hour rule is based on experimentation. Did you know that Thomas Edison, the inventor of light bulb had 1000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb? If it is not for his “Never Give Up” attitude and continuously experimentation, we might still be living in darkness. Albert Einstein sums it up brilliantly when he said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

If you analyze the lives and careers of all the famous business leaders today whether it is Mark Zukerberg, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, you will find that they keep on experimenting. That is the reason why they keep on coming up with new products and services that fascinate the world.  Marc Andreessen, the pioneer that kick-started the internet revolution by creating Mosaic and Netscape, most widely used web browser of their time.

In one of his interviews, he praised the young CEOs and how they keep honing their skills with deliberate learning and 5 hour rule.  He said, “If you spend time with great CEOs, you would find this to be true of Mark [Zuckerberg] today or of any of the great CEOs of today or the past. They are encyclopedic in their knowledge of how to run a company, and it is very hard to just intuit all of that in your early 20s. The path that makes much more sense for most people is to spend five to 10 years getting skills.”


If you want to achieve what these top business leaders and entrepreneurs have achieved, then you will have to master the art of deliberate learning and learn to use five-hour rule for this purpose. Following the three stages of reading, reflecting and experimenting will bring a noticeable change in your personality, as you learn new skills and experience new things that you have never done before. It is time to harness the power of deliberate learning with 5-hour rule to become a better business leader. If you have any other example that shows how business leaders indulge in deliberate learning, then feel free to share it with us in comments section below.