Bob Tamasy: Success, And The ‘10,000-Hour Rule’

Monday, June 9, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Do you consider yourself successful? What would you cite as necessities for someone to achieve great success?

Whenever there’s a discussion of what constitutes success, opinions are plentiful. Innate abilities, sometimes also referred to as “giftedness” or aptitude, can certainly make a huge difference. Education and training usually are significant contributors. And you can’t discount the level of one’s determination and perseverance – willingness to continue pressing forward in the face of obstacles and adversity.

Years ago in Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell examined success from many perspectives. He introduced the “10,000-Hour Rule” as a key factor for attaining high levels of success.
Drawing from Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson’s research, Gladwell proposed spending at least 10,000 hours practicing a specific skill as a prerequisite for mastering it.

Predictably, Gladwell’s declaration met criticism from experts arguing time and repetition alone can’t guarantee success. The saying, “practice makes perfect,” falls flat if you practice making the same mistakes again and again, they noted. Maybe that’s why the adage was later amended to “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

In reality, both sides are right – and wrong. Large quantities of time will produce success only if practice and repetition are done with quality. And practice, even if done with precision, will foster success only if done in sufficient quantities to make excellence almost second nature.

Thinking about Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule, only a handful of things I’ve done over the years would qualify. When I took Personal Typing as a junior in high school, learning the “home row” seemed impossible, and I couldn’t imagine typing without looking directly at the keys. After many years of work as a journalist, learning to think and compose at the keyboard, I became very proficient as a typist. In fact, my typing surpassed many of the secretaries and administrative assistants wherever I worked.

I couldn’t begin to calculate how much time I’ve spent writing, over more than 40 decades as a newspaper reporter and editor, magazine editor, book author, columnist and blogger. But the hours total tens of thousands. On happy occasions when someone is kind enough to compliment my writing skills, I’m thankful. But it also occurs to me, “Well, I’d better be a pretty good writer. I’ve spent enough time doing it!”

Contrast that with pursuits I’ve enjoyed but never invested enough time to perfect. It was fun playing the drums in high school, but after a couple of years of formal lessons, my percussion practice consisted only of random “bang sessions.” As a result, I never became the drummer I would have liked to be.

In college I spent many hours on tennis courts playing recreationally. Over time I became reasonably skilled given my athletic limitations, but because I never invested the time demanded to become a good player, I never advanced beyond mediocre. Ten thousand hours practicing tennis? Not even close.

So what’s all this got to do with anything? Well, for one thing, the mantra, “It’s the quality that counts, not quantity,” is a copout. For instance, in parenting, children want quality time – but they like it in quantity. If you want to have a good, growing marriage, you need to give your spouse quantity time – not an occasional quality hour or two. Successful parents – and successful partners – aren’t afraid to invest whatever time is necessary. Maybe even 10,000 hours or so.

Spiritually it’s much the same. The average Christian seems to think attendance at a worship service and maybe a Sunday school class or small group is sufficient for spiritual maturity. “Hey, God, I gave you a couple of hours on Sunday. What do you want?”

Granted, we have work, family obligations, time for eating and sleeping, maybe a few community activities thrown in. And we need time for TV and just chillin’, right? But how can we experience success spiritually if we spend more time eating chips than we do speaking and listening to God?

In reality, He wants us 24/7. That doesn’t mean we walk about with hands folded and heads bowed. But the Bible does say, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means doing that in the classroom, during a business meeting, while disciplining our children, cooking meals, even driving the car. Praying does not require closed eyes or opened mouths.

The verse preceding that tells us to “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). This applies to good times and bad, victories and defeats, happy times and sad. Because being successful spiritually involves trusting the Lord is with us no matter what.

Do you really want to know God? It’s going to require a lot more than reading “the verse of the day” that arrives by email every morning. King David understood this from personal experience when he wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9,11).

Imagine if, over the course of your lifetime, you were to invest 10,000 hours or more in prayer, Bible study and meditation. Do you think that might result in spiritual success? It sure would be worth a try.

* * * 

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.

 



Scenic City Women’s Network Prayer Walk/Vigil For Chattanooga Will Be Aug. 6

Scenic City Women’s Network will hold a Prayer Walk / Vigil for the city of Chattanooga and the families of the fallen servicemen in the recent Chattanooga shootings.  The event will be held at two locations on August 6, at 6 p.m.  Locations include the River Park off Amnicola Highway at the concession area and Grace Works Church, 6445 Lee Hwy. "Everyone is invited ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Life Through The Lens Of A Camera

“Life is like a camera: Just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives,  and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”   Reading this post on Facebook, I resonated with it because that’s been my experience, both behind the camera and in life.  It’s no secret I love to write. (Actually, like many professional writers, ... (click for more)

Michael Futrell, 38, Shot By Corey Mullinax, 25, In Cleveland

Michael Futrell, 38, was shot by Corey Mullinax, 25, Saturday night in Cleveland at approximately  9:15 p.m.  T he shooting occurred at Forest Grove Apartments at 2350 Blackburn Road SE. According to multiple witness statements, the victim, Mr. Futrell, walked over to the vehicle of Mullinax, where the two were speaking. The suspect then shot the victim in the torso. ... (click for more)

Teenager Shot In Drive-By Shooting On West 38th Street

Javier Lansden, 18, was shot early Sunday morning on West 38th Street. At approximately  2:47 a.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 264 Water Street for a person shot.  Officers found that the shooting occurred at 263 West 38 th  Street.  The victim stated he was sitting on his bicycle at 263 West 38 th  Street, when a dark-colored ... (click for more)

How To Be #ChattanoogaStrong

Chattanooga is my home; I was born here 35 years ago. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most challenging times in our city's history. The #ChattanoogaStrong hashtag will remain for quite some time, but it means so much more than 18 characters on social media. It represents the sorrow and mourning, as well as the resilience and compassion, of our exceptional community.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Navy Denies Any Charges

UPDATE: A spokesman for the U.S. Navy on Sunday denied reports that disciplinary charges will be filed against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for discharging an unauthorized weapon on federal property.   According to a post of Facebook and other social media sites, a statement reads, “Stories of Navy personnel being charges with an offense are not true. There is still a long way ... (click for more)