The Ten Year Rule
After my last post a reader sent me a note they enjoyed the discussion on the path to expertise, so I thought I’d follow up on the subject.
I believe in the ten year rule. (No, this is not related to shifts in political power.) The ten year rule refers to the idea that competence in any discipline takes time. If you want to transform yourself, you have to vizualize what you want to be decade from now. Often folks give up before they start. There are many nice guitars bought for Christmas that wind up in the closet by Easter.
For me it was true in golf, for the mandolin, and even more so in medicine. As a writer, I have been at in since 2000. All indications are I will get my book out there in 2010, so it looks like it might hold up yet again.
Kids are not as self conscious as adults. When you are twelve and a bad fiddler, no one cares. In fact, it often seems cute. Sometimes people are not as charitable towards adults. And grownups are harder on themselves than kids will be in regards to the learning curve. For some reason, I was always willing to cut myself some slack. My daughter always said I made it to competence as a mandolinist because I had no shame. I was willing to play gigs before I had any business on stage. Believe me, the first nine years were rough but around the end of the first decade it began to come around.
You might say the ten year rule only applies because I am slow. That might be true, but if so, tortises unite! I never claimed to be a hare anyway, exept maybe a wild one.
I also believe it is true one can not work their way to greatness. I’m a 7 handicap golfer. If I quit my day job tomorrow and hit balls all day I wouldn’t be a pro. It just wasn’t what the Good Lord had in mind for me. I could play mandolin all day every day and not sound like Darin Aldridge or Wayne Benson. By the way, I know what kind of time they gave to be that good, and it was a lot.
It is even more true in medicine. I worked hard to be my best, but we had one cat in the class I couldn’t touch. Tom Bailey was the smartest human I ever knew. He had a photographic memory. I could make 94th or so, but he was good for the 99th every time. It finally got the the point I had to pray about it.
“Lord, why did you not let me be as smart as Tom Bailey?”
“Son, I wanted you to be smart enough to talk to him, but dumb enough to be a country doctor.”
And so it was. I don’t question that; I accept and embrace it. I try to be the best Dr. Bibey I can be, flaws and all. That is all we are asked to do.
But for me, as a Doc it took ten years from the day I got my acceptance letter to the time when I felt I was reasonably good at what I do. I guess I’m a little slow, but I’m the best Dr. B I know how to be, and that is good enough, even though it falls short of perfection.
But speaking of perfection, we had our little Corporate Compliance lady in today and she said I made 100. It made for a good start to the weekend. I’m off early and gonna do some picking, so I’ll talk to you soon.
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