10,000 Hours of Jewish Living

A young woman who had taken on living a Torah-observant lifestyle a few years ago recently contacted me. She expressed to me that although she is generally happy and fulfilled in all that she is doing, there are often times when she falls.

Of course, she finds this discouraging. "How can I be falling back into old patterns after a number of years making serious personal change? Do I really have so little of a backbone that I can't live up to my ideals when push-comes-to-shove?"

Her frustration with herself is something we all experience in some capacity, whether it is in a religious context or some other arena of life.

Here we have someone who grew up living one kind of life, and based on new information and exposure is in a process of growth into a higher version of herself, a version in which she is living a very different way of life.

The 10,000-Hour Rule

I am reminded of a psychological principle made known to the masses in Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book, Outliers. In it, Gladwell describes the 10,000-hour rule. The 10,000-hour rule is that, while it helps for an individual to be innately gifted at performing a trait or skill, he or she must have dedicated 10,000 hours to performing, working on, and refining that trait or skill in order to truly master it.

Gladwell goes on to bring examples of revolutionaries in the arts and sciences and show how they all had access to 10,000 hours at their craft, making his point that the 10,000 rule is a big part of the recipe for success in any arena.

10,000 Hours of Jewish Living

I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that if the 10,000-hour principle applies to the refining of a trait or skill—which is an aspect of life—how much more does it apply to the refining of one's overall lifestyle.

Hopefully, each of us has certain things we are working on: things we catch ourselves doing, stop ourselves, and then change direction to something a little more positive and refined.

It is easy to get frustrated by the times we mess up and neglect catching ourselves, and it often has damaging results in our relationships as well. However, the key is to stay in the game. Most likely we have not gotten to our 10,000 hours yet in this particular field or character trait.

The same applies to Jewish living.

It is easy to get inspired and fired up at the beginning of the journey, but even when we have followed up on the initial burst, there are times when we fall, even after years. The key is to keep our eyes on the prize and to keep getting back up. To stay in the game. You haven't lost until you decide to throw in the towel. You decide when you have lost. You can always start fresh tomorrow. Or from right now.

After all, maybe you just haven't hit 10,000 hours yet.