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Less is More...Gladwell and Clear are on to Something

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell introduces readers to the 10,000-hour rule. The theory states that in order to become an expert in any field, a person has to devote at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to their craft. 10,000 hours is roughly three hours per day for 3,333 days, which is a little over nine years. Gladwell uses Bill Gates and The Beatles as contemporary examples of the rule. Before anyone knew their names, these individuals were silently plodding their way through mundane programs and rehearsals. Their talent commingled with early and often practice produced the iconic figures that many worship today.

Gladwell argues that deliberate practice is integral to greatness. In a world where multi-tasking and having several priorities are popular, Gladwell suggests that one's time and attention should be concentrated. Similarly, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, suggests that productivity isn't getting more done each day, but getting important things done consistently. By doing less, it is believed that the practitioner can accomplish more. When we take the time to identify what matters, and intentionally--and consistently--devote time to a task, extraordinary results are sure to occur. Clear writes, "All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger." Yes, habit forming is easier said than done, but it is not an impossibility. Greatness and improved productivity are not products of spontaneity. Discipline, willpower, dedication, and tunnel vision are all key elements that can and should be developed.

Instead of starting the day with someone else's marching orders, take a moment to evaluate what is necessary and expedient to move your education, dream, business, or other pursuit forward. Once identified, commit to deliberate practice early and often, and pretty soon your investment will bear fruit. Committing might look like writing out a daily schedule, setting alarms, creating an environment conducive to productivity, working with an accountability partner, or turning off the phone and television during practice. Initially, committing might seem challenging and changes may not be detectable; however, there is a tipping point where each investment made in the 10,000-hour bank of productivity yields noticeable, healthy returns.

Is there something that you have dedicated many hours crafting? Or, maybe you've finally realized that there is no award for multi-tasking, and you're trying to determine what is a priority. What big dreams continually ruminate in your head and heart? It is not too late, you aren't too old (or too young), and you do not have to wait until January 01 to begin.

This terminal degree is not going to complete itself, so I'll just take a heaping teaspoon of my own advice and get to work. Who's with me?

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Spot on! Both authors are two of my favorite clarion voices. Thanks for sharing some timely advice (pun intended)!

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