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Investing in your profession and yourself: 10,000 hours to greatness

"It's not going to build itself"

Jean M. Twenge has linked high self-esteem with low academic performance. The University of San Diego associate professor has published two books about narcissism: Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled-and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2007) and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2010).

The research and examples of risky, unrealistic self-confidence of 20 and 30 somethings - raised in an "everybody wins" environment – resonated with my recent experience teaching emergency service providers.

Not only do they not know what they do not know (unconscious incompetence), they reject feedback. Working at the university saw many college students move from hard majors, requiring math and science, into easier majors. In some cases they graduated high school with inadequate preparation for math, science or writing,

Or, as an academic colleague pointed out "… only 7% of the eighth graders reached advanced  level in math, but the other 93% feel real good about themselves." Almost half of the Singapore and South Korea eighth graders achieved advanced math level in the 2012 assessment.

Mastering Success

Malcom Gladwell's description of the 10,000 hour rule in Outliers (2008) has provided one explaination of how to move from unconscious incompetence to unsconscious competence . Cribbing from Wikipedia:

A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the "10,000-Hour Rule", based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles' musical talents and Gates' computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes Beatles' biographer Philip Norman as saying, "So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, 'they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'" Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.

Does high self-esteem hinder organizational development?

Last year we ramped up the discussion of EMS as a profession. This included three articles during EMS Week when we compared the 40 year progression of emergency physicians and nurses with ems providers:

Is EMS REALLY a calling?

How EMS physicians became recognized and rewarded

Making Paramedicine a Profession

For emergency physicians and registered nurses, developing their professions seemed to be in response to the low esteem, pay and power they had in the 1960's. It took two formal attempts over 25 years for physicians to get EMS recognized as an emergency medicine board subspecialty.

At the end of 2012 Justin Schorr reflected on the impact of EMS 2.0, a concept he developed three years ago with Chris Kaiser: The Hour is Late.

Do we feel too good about ourselves to dig-in and build EMS as our physician and nurse colleagues have? 

In EMS 2.5: Beyond The Buzz, I say it is time to stop whining. We need to start building the profession.

Invest in yourself

In the 10,000 hours journey to greatness you must invest in yourself. For evidence-based practice focused on patient outcome, we need paramedics and emts with bachelor and graduate degrees. 

No one else will do it for you.  Check out this ems1.com post: Hi, my name is Mike and I have emergencytitis. We need to move beyond the adrenalin rush so we can help more people and get much better pay and recognition.

You can start by taking one college class in the second semester of Spring or the Summer semester.

You can make an industry-changing impact by learning calculus-based statistics and science.

Mike "FossilMedic" Ward

Comments - Add Yours

  • PW

    While I wholeheartedly agree that every professional should spend 10,000 hours advancing themselves (as I personally have) We need a way to educate our superiors, many of whom DO NOT spend nearly enough time on professional development on the importance of continued improvement.

    • http://www.firegeezer.com/ Mike “FossilMedic” Ward

      Good point PW,
      How can we educate them?

    • http://everydayemstips.com Greg Friese

      It sounds like you are … but replace your superiors. Become an FTO, manager, or supervisor. Put yourself on a career track to become an EMS chief. I don’t think we educate our superiors, rather we replace them when they become inadequate to the challenges of leadership.

  • http://everydayemstips.com Greg Friese

    Great encouragement, “You can start by taking one college class in the second semester of Spring or the Summer semester.”

    If the admissions bar or cost or challenge is too high start with a free college level from Coursera or a similar massive open online course (MOOC).

    • http://www.firegeezer.com/ Mike “FossilMedic” Ward

      Great suggestion!