The essential premise of the ten thousand hour rule is key to understanding the role of opportunity in it. From the onset of Chapter 2, Malcolm Gladwell explains that the truly great are not just inherently gifted. Instead, the truly great are also very well practiced. His explains that K. Anderson Ericsson, a psychologist, researched the concept of gifted musicians and found that ten thousand hours of practice are a critical minimum that the greatest musicians shared. These studies have been replicated time and time again and shown to really display the ten thousand hour rule in many other disciplines, too. Still, practice isn't the only component of the equation.
Gladwell analyzes the lives of Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles to uncover another primal component of being a successful outlier. He explains,
We pretend that success Is exclusively a matter of individual merit. But there's nothing in any of the histories we've looked at so far to suggest things are that simple. These are stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seize it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. (Pg 67)
Gladwell contends success is not only a matter of practicing a minimum of ten thousand hours. Rather, success is being given the opportunity to practice greatness in the first place. Had it not been for Bill Joy walking around campus one day, he may never have become a programmer. If Bill Gates hadn't had a series of 8 beneficial opportunities, he would not have been Bill Gates. And lastly, the Beatles were invited, rather opportunistically, to Hamburg where they had nonstop practice of their craft, and went on to do amazing things. They were an average band before Germany. Opportunity, then, is critical to being able to learn and hone skills.