Sunday, October 4, 2009

10,000 Hours

I have been a little bit busy lately. I spent two days last week at medical facilities for my wife's kidney stone removal (Wednesday) and my son's concussion from a basketball game (Thursday). I started thinking that universal health care sounded like a good idea. This was just before asserting myself to avoid my son being sent to the emergency on an ambulance, since their CT Scan machine was broken and they couldn't get authorization from my insurance company. It all ended nicely and I rewarded the urgent care staff with $2.40 worth of doughnut holes. Their response: a lot of smiles and a "You can never go wrong bringing nurses treats".

I had plenty of time to think about during my wait and I realized that while universal health care is a great idea, I have no confidence that our Federal Government can accomplish it effectively. The main reason is that our U.S. Constitution makes it very difficult for them to administrate such a complex enterprise. There are good reasons for this.

So why is this blog titled 10,000 hours? I'm finishing Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" (I recommend it!). One of the ideas in his book is that in order to master a complex task (i.e., become a top musician, athlete, etc.) a person needs to spend about 10,000 hours. These were his findings:
  • Top violinists at a performing arts school had all practiced or performed roughly 10,000 hours. The "B" Violinists had practiced 8,000 hours and "C" group about 6,000 hours
  • Professional Canadian Hockey players had played about 10,000 hours
  • Bill Gates had spent roughly 10,000 hours writing software before founding Microsoft
  • The Beetles had performed about 10,000 hours before making it big (I always thought that Ed Sullivan just plucked them from Liverpool).

Some of these cases involved very fortunate circumstances: what month you were born in; going to a private school that happened to have access to the latest computers and living within walking distance of a university that had the same; getting a gig in Hamburg that had you performing 7 days a week.

"Outliers" also talks about the benefits of hard work and spending extra time.

Last night, I watched the General Priesthood broadcast for the LDS church. One of my favorite speakers, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, talked about being a refuge in Frankfurt, Germany after World War II. He shared two important principles he learned from this experience: Work Hard and Learn. You can listen to his talk here.


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