Author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers discusses a phenomenon that he calls “The 10,000 Hour Rule.” Gladwell quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin, who says that scientific studies show that 10,000 hours are required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. Two examples:

The Beatles

The Fab Four burst onto the world stage in the 1960s, seemingly lifted from their hometown of Liverpool and dropped into the world's biggest venues. But theirs was not an overnight success. One of the Beatles' early gigs was performing near military bases in Hamburg, Germany; they would perform for eight hours a day, seven days a week. They did this for 270 days over the course of 18 months. By the time the Beatles enjoyed their first commercial success in 1964, they had performed 1,200 times, which is more than most bands today perform in their careers. When the Beatles first left for Germany, they weren't very good. But by the time their Hamburg stints ended, they sounded like no other band in the world. They were well on their way to getting in their 10,000 hours.

Bill Gates

Generally regarded as a savant or a computer genius, Gates has a 10,000-hour story, too. Gates had the good fortune to attend a private school in Seattle that had a computer club. This was 1968, when most universities did not have a computer club. And Gates' club didn't have an ordinary computer — they had an ASR-33 Teletype, one of the most advanced computers of its day. Gates was hooked on computers and began programming in the eighth grade! This led to other experiences in Seattle, and by the time he graduated, Gates had practically lived in the computer lab for five years. He was closing in on 10,000 hours and was ready to take full advantage of the opportunities he soon would receive.

There are similar examples: Bill Joy, computer legend and founder of Sun Microsystems; Mozart, whose greatest compositions weren't written until he had been composing for more than 20 years; and it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a chess grandmaster.

The 10,000-hour rule undoubtedly applies to religious meeting planning. You want and need to become an outstanding religious meeting planner, or at least a proficient one, but you don't have the luxury of 10,000 hours — or 10 years. What can you do?

Seize every educational, networking, and mentoring opportunity available — like the ones you have through RCMA. Attend the annual conference, read expert books and articles, participate in educational webinars. By tapping the knowledge of people who have their 10,000 hours, you will reach a level of proficiency that otherwise would have taken years — or 10,000 hours — to gain.