Monday, August 2, 2010
The Rule of Twelve
We've all heard that the human brain can accommodate about seven pieces of data at any given time.
Well, according to Malcolm Gladwell, we're also set up to handle approximately twelve serious friendships/relationships. This is not only the number we appear to be biologically programmed for, it's also, sensibly, the number of people we can consistently spend time with.
If you doubt this, ask yourself: How many apostles were there?
Evidently Jesus agreed with Gladwell.
This rule of twelve seems completely reasonable to me, and it probably works pretty well for most folks.
My problem is:
1) I have 6 siblings and
2) I have 6 kids (plus a couple of really nice kids-in-law).
I'm already past the magic number, and we haven't even started on my 10 grandchildren yet. Not to mention numerous adorable nieces and nephews, cool aunts and uncles, and various friends.
After I read the Gladwell essay, I spent a little time with an Excel spreadsheet (always my favorite way to organize myself) doing a little exercise called "Who Are My Twelve?"
We won't go into who is and who isn't (because you never know who's going to be bored enough to check out my blog), but the way it worked out for me is that there are maybe 6 or 8 people who fit cleanly within my twelve and a butt-load more that should be there/could be there if only there were more hours in the day.
And what I do is take those remaining slots and peanut butter spread them across all my other loved ones. If there's a recipe for stress and guilt, I suspect it includes peanut butter.
So how about you?
Who are your twelve?