How many hours of practice does it take to master a skill? How many hours does it take to build great relationships?
The popular answer is “10,000”, spread by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Although there’s a lot of controversy over the accuracy of that claim, it is still the most common answer that people give. But no one gets to ten thousand hours of practice on accident. It must be an intentional decision. And that’s where a very important question comes into play:
What skills do I need to master?
There are a wide variety of skills that life requires us to master, or at least manage. Our careers will be largely built on skills we have, whether they are “hard skills” or “soft skills”. Building a family will also require skills: communication, teaching, and much more. Even our hobbies will be more fulfilling as we develop skill.
When we talk about “life skills” what do we mean? And which skills are really worth all the practice?
Unbound students and staff have been asking this question for a long time as we seek to understand what it means to truly live unbound. While we don’t claim to have the final answers, we’ve identified several categories of “life skills” that seem to be foundational: time management, task management, and the ability to develop strong relationships and community. Each of these require their own set of additional skills.
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Relationships Are A Skill
Freedom carries responsibility. So when we say we’re unbound we recognize that we are unbound for something. One thing that Unbound students use their freedom to build is excellence. We want to do things well.
Perfection isn’t realistic. No one is perfect and no one will be. But excellence is within our reach.
This applies to relationships just as much as it does to leadership, accounting, or art.
Our culture today is losing this excellence in building relationships. We are stuck behind screens that have hijacked our relational nature and slowly deformed our understanding of relationships and community. Instead of listening, we are used to “sharing”. When we use social media like a “bully pulpit”, we forget that much of life is actually lived in the proverbial pews—listening attentively to others.
Excellence in Relationships
The need for mastery in building great relationships and community is urgent and important now. Life skills like this aren’t being taught and modeled for those making their way into adulthood. There are key pieces to the skill of relationship building that Unbound’s CEO and President, Jonathan Brush, discusses in this video. (Jonathan’s lecture begins about five-and-a-half minutes in.)
This is why the people of Unbound are so passionate about life skills like relationship-building. It’s skills like this that are in universal need, no matter what your college major or career is.
We’ve built our core program: Ascend, around the goal of preparing students for real life. That includes helping them build plenty of life skills that will make them productive, wise, and impactful for the Kingdom of God. Relationship-building is one of those skills. And in true Unbound fashion, this skill is not taught solely in a classroom. Students have the opportunity to practice this skill as they develop community in their Ascend Teams.
Ascend is a project-based learning program built to prepare your student for real life. It involves Christian leadership training, the challenge of a personal, real-world project, and a community that has your student’s back as they launch into adulthood. Students can also earn 9-30 college credits during their year in Ascend. Apply now or schedule an appointment for more information.
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.