Vertical News - February 2009

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Vertical News - February 2009

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Dear Vertical Thought Reader,

We are in the midst of production of the April-June 2009 issue of Vertical Thought, and I think you'll find it to be an interesting one. We have articles on everything from tips to save you money to an unexpected connection between your sleep and your "shape." Other features include finding friends, figuring out who to marry and understanding a three-letter word that no one wants to talk about.

The main theme is how to achieve real success in life. This subject has been on my mind even after the articles were turned in, so I was very interested to hear about Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success.

The Tipping Point and Blink, Mr. Gladwell's previous best-sellers, uncovered the "secrets" of viral marketing and of intuition.

In Outliers, he again employs interesting stories to clarify complex subjects and expose the myths. He debunks the theory of success that claims there are "naturals" who succeed with no effort. But he also takes on the school of thought that extols the "self-made man" who overcomes all obstacles through superhuman effort. In Gladwell's universe, neither is completely true. Even hard workers need support or at least the luck of being born at the right time. And even geniuses need to work hard.

There's not much we can do about luck, but we can apply Gladwell's chapter on "The 10,000-Hour Rule."

He quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin: "The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything."

Outliers features case studies from Mozart to the Beatles, from chess grand master Bobby Fisher to Canadian hockey stars, from Sun Microsystems' Bill Joy to Microsoft's Bill Gates. By Gladwell's calculations, none of them made it big without first putting in his time—10,000 hours, often spread over 10 years of preparation.

How does this apply in real life? The 10,000-hour rule is shorthand for several principles of success we can all apply in our pursuits. To devote 10,000 hours to something requires goal setting. It also takes focused education, drive and perseverance. The Bible extols these qualities:

"The hand of the diligent makes one rich" (Proverbs 10:4).

"We count them blessed who endure" (James 5:11).

But how does anyone find 10,000 hours to devote to his or her goal? After all, that's about 20 hours a week over 10 years! (Note: We're not saying that God requires at least 10,000 hours in a spiritual task to "master" it, but the principle of setting our goals high and regularly working on them is important.)

Jesus Christ chose as one of His energetic apostles a man called Paul. Paul encouraged us to be wise, "redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:16). According to Barnes' Notes this means "to rescue or recover our time from waste."

Paul, who wrote half the books of the New Testament, must have known a thing or two about using his time wisely. Interestingly, it took over 10 years after he got his wake-up call from Christ on the road to Damascus before his friend and fellow apostle Barnabas brought him to Antioch to launch his ministerial and literary career. From what we know of Paul's persistence, I'm sure he spent that time in at least 10,000 hours worth of powerful preparation!

Stand by for the next issue and good news about your real success.