10,000 Hours

I recently wrote a post comparing Jesus’ discipleship model to the local church’s discipleship model. How Jesus gave over 10,000 hours to his disciples in three years and how it takes the church system nearly 40 years to reach 10,000 hours.

Today I read an article that shows 10,000 hours maybe the tipping point for mastery. I had never heard of Richard Hamming before today and I have yet to read Outliers. (I know, I know. I will read it this year.)

Here is an excerpt from the article.

The messiness of (Richard) Hamming’s speech contrasts with the rational cleanliness of another popular model of becoming excellent: the 10,000 hour rule. This “rule” has been studied since the 1970s, but Malcolm Gladwell brought it into the mainstream with his 2008 bookOutliers. Here’s how he described the idea in a recent interview:

When we look at any kind of cognitively complex field — for example, playing chess, writing fiction or being a neurosurgeon — we find that you are unlikely to master it unless you have practiced for 10,000 hours.

This rule reduces achievement to quantity: the secret to becoming great is to do a great amount of work. What Hamming emphasizes, however, is that quantity alone is not sufficient. (”I’ve often wondered why so many of my good friends at Bell Labs who worked as hard or harder than I did, didn’t have so much to show for it,” he asks at one point in his speech.) Those 10,000 hours have to be invested in the right things, and as the disjointed nature of Hamming’s talk underscores, the question of what are the right things is slippery and near impossible to nail down with confidence.

In other words, becoming excellent is not the result of a well-behaved tallying of hours,  it instead emerges out of a swamp of roiling ambiguity. If you’re not ready for this reality, he implies, you’re unlikely to last long on a path toward greatness.

This is what I am thinking and feeling about the Church today. How we need to make a HUGE shift on how we create disciples of Jesus.

If it takes 10,000 hours to master this craft, and I believe that even more today, and if this is the most important thing I could do in my life, and if it will ultimately bring my life the most joy….if all of those things are true, or just one of them…..why do I put myself and others on a 40 year trajectory????

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Filed under About John, Culture, ReThink, The Church, What I'm Learning

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