10,000 dips

I wrote earlier this week on the need to raise up students who will accept and even revel in the unsettled, “sojourny” experience they’ll likely have after college – if indeed they’re open to the preparation and adventure God has for them.

Two helpful thoughts from recent books that could help here:

1. The 10,000 Hour “Rule.” In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell famously presents a notion that to be truly great at something may just require 10,000 hours of work. You can read more about the idea in the book (which is phenomenal, by the way), or catch the Wikipedia take on it in the Outliers article.

And while there’s no sense in applying this sort of thing in a legalistic way, it’s at least a good principle to help our students understand that they’re probably looking at a long time of nose-to-the-grindstone work before things “feel” more “concrete.” (10 years at 20 hours a week would cover that “rule.”)

2. The Dip. Perhaps even more useful, get your students to read Seth Godin’s The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), or read it yourself and help them understand the principles. (Really, this incredibly quick read could change the way you approach projects within your college ministry. It’s fantastic for us AND our students.)

Like Outliers, this is a secular book, but there still isn’t a better go-to book I’ve found for helping anybody who’s considering undertaking any sort of project.

And here, Seth Godin helpful compares and contrasts the 10,000 Hour Rule with The Dip.

I honestly believe that either or both of these books / ideas could help fuel your preparation for students’ long-term success – including a realistic understanding of the road ahead of them. They don’t replace the biblical wisdom, to be sure, but I do think there’s real wisdom here.


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