Monday, November 29, 2010

10,000 Jumps

In an attempt to understand success and genius, Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers on the 10,000-Hour Rule.

Based on a study by Anders Ericsson, the 10,000-Hour Rule states that the equivalent of 20 hours a week for ten years must be put into a skill or career before real success arrives (historically speaking: Bill Gates and The Beatles are among the examples).

The 10,000-Hour Rule is just one part of Outliers, which also explores why soccer players born in certain months are more successful, why pilots from certain cultures are more prone to crash their planes, and why hard work alone won't get you to the top.

Gladwell has said, "I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with."

Yet the 10,000 hours--mastering a skill, repeating a task--bears a closer look, especially as I come to the end of a blog-every-day challenge.

The other day I was jumping rope in my garage, the bunny looking at me quizzically and taking a hop every minute or so, not in solidarity but out of terror. In a flash, a whish of the rope, I suddenly knew what I should be doing to jump right and better.

I'd taken to this efficient workout after determining it doesn't injure my knees and calves as running on a treadmill does (Bruce Lee reportedly claimed that ten minutes of skipping rope is equal to 30 minutes of running).

And though a spectator or bunny might not notice the changes brought on by my moment of revelation, I could feel the difference; I was moving with more grace, no longer working against the rhythm but with it.

Call me what you will for needing thousands of jumps to figure something out, or chalk it up to some things just needing time. Marriage done well. A good sauce. Exercise. I wonder sometimes why I'm doing the thousandth row, if I need to be in the gym again, but it's all adding up, like small deposits in a bank account. I like that a fit body can't be bought. In an age when many things can be had with a click, it's gratifying to know you have to work for the important stuff.

I can't say that blogging every day this month has moved me to the level of master blogger, but I trust it has been a worthwhile exercise. Take a peek back at the other entries of this month before they disappear--I mean, before they accumulate into the large body of work of which I'm very proud.

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