Sunday, March 1, 2009

Give Time Time

The devil was on my mind this morning and it wasn't just because I was at church. Okay, it started there. We heard the christian scripture story about Jesus going out to the desert and the devil tempting him. Interestingly, all of the temptations concern solving problems - hunger and power for example, immediately. Whether you are christian or not the story points out one of the key challenges to greatness in our society - immediacy. We want everything right now including greatness. We don't want to take the time to develop our skills, ideas, or plans. We want success and we want it immediately. We won't give time, time.

The reality is that we have to give ourselves and others a break. In 42 BC Publius Syrus said "It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity." More recently, in his new book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell offers the current research indicating that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to achieve excellence. The problem is that our society offers instant gratification in so many areas that we somehow want to believe ourselves capable of achieving greatness quickly. It's true that we can achieve fame almost overnight (American Idol, Survivor), or fortune instantly (MegaMillions lottery is currently at $212 million dollars), yet the reality is that greatness will not be rushed.

We need to be humble enough to allow ourselves and others to develop and mature. Setting short term goals helps; we all need to know we are succeeding. But more importantly we have to realize that we will not achieve our personal greatness overnight. Don't be tempted. Give time time.

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