Nine out of Ten times? Focus on the 10th!

We recently saw the movie Ride Along 2 (don’t judge me), and although it was pretty much what you’d expect, a B- comedy, there was one line that resonated with me.

In defense of his irritating, obnoxious, try-too-hard, needy brother-in-law to be as played by Kevin Hart, trust nobody detective Ice Cube says something to the effect of, “Nine out of ten times the things he says and does are stupid, but that tenth time– it’s close to genius.” (I had to paraphrase from memory because the line is not quoted on IMDb.)

Nine out of ten times = stupid, but one out of ten = genius.
I kind of like that. Not great odds, but considering how many stupid things I have said and done in my life, I figure I’m about due for a string of genius.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book, Outliers, “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.”

Okay, I would like to combine the insights of Ice Cube and Malcom Gladwell. It makes total sense to me that 9000 of those 10,000 hours would be accrued through trial and error. I think nine thousand hours of failure will eventually cause you to figure it out. That’s the stupid part. The last one thousand hours is honing the skill. That’s the close to genius. Better musician, better athlete, better writer. The same 9:10 ratio but put in a context a lot of people can relate to.

Michael Jordan makes my point in his famous quote, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” The trying counts!







Wayne Gretzky’s oft quoted comment, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” further establishes the idea.








I am familiar with what Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” That’s a fabulous quote. Direct, straight forward, to the point. BUT, COME ON! I don’t happen to have the force on my side. I actually have to work for this. Do not tell me not to try. I don’t know what I’m doing! I need those nine thousand hours of trying to get better. Of failing and gaining ground on success.

Stay tuned for my own personal close to genius.

But be patient, I’m trying.


About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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2 Responses to Nine out of Ten times? Focus on the 10th!

  1. Love this post Mary! We can never be reminded of this enough. I found this one and love it:
    The best angle from which to approach a problem is the Try-angle. ~Anonymous

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