This life lesson relates to my previous blog post #74 Fly in a Wind Tunnel.
The title says it all and I’m sure this is a lesson everyone is aware of. It is one of those cliché saying that we have all heard since we were kids. It bears some similarities to my previous blog post [#97 Lesson] It is easy to Underestimate New Challenges. Keep both of these lessons in mind when starting any new endeavour.
Whether it is a guitarist, a freestyle motocross rider, or an Olympic gymnast, when we watch these professionals perform their art, they make it look easy. A lot of times, witnessing a professional do an activity is what inspires us to try it for ourselves. Unfortunately, the realisation of how hard the activity is for us to do is what causes us to give it up. Every day, people give up on aspirations almost as quickly as they began.
The first peak on the learning curve is the “make or break” point. This usually happens early on in the endeavour and it is your ability to be humble and persevere through the difficulties that will keep you focused on achieving your goal. When people hit this first peak, it is easy for them to claim that they will never be as good as the professional they have watched so they should just give up. Albeit the first part of the statement holds some value, the second part of the statement is where the problem lies.
The professionals we watch on TV have made it into the spotlight because they have persevered and made it to the top of their respective activity. Is there some truth in saying that you will never be as good as them? Probably. But setting yourself a challenge of aspiring to be as good as or better than them is how you progress. Even if you set yourself a challenge to be half as good as them, the important part is that the result of the challenge is that you stick with the activity.
Let’s discuss another cliché expression, jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none. This expression is myself in a nutshell. Some of the activities I enjoy include: skiing, surfing, scuba diving, cooking, mountain biking, skydiving, snowboarding, ice hockey and lacrosse. I am superb at none of them but I am good at all of them.
When I tried most of these for the first time, I was terrible. The only reason I have been able to reach a level of proficiency that I am satisfied with is because I accepted that I was terrible, understood I was not going to be terrible forever and persevered through it. I stayed humble as I dealt with the first peak of each learning curve and accepted the challenge I had put upon myself to get better.
Some people are naturals and can pick up any activity with ease. It is hard not to envy these people, especially when you are teaching them how to do something for the first time. They can pick up a skill in one day, which took you two weeks to achieve the same result. Good for them, but you also have to be humble here and not take offence that they made it to the same level as you in less time.
I have always been like this so I have learned a lot from it. Although I may wish that I could learn something in one day, the satisfaction I get at the end of two weeks is very rewarding. This is what I focus on now, not how difficult things are in the moment or how long it is actually taking to progress. I focus on the end results and this gives me the drive to accomplish the challenge I have set for myself.
Let’s round this out with one more cliché. You must learn to crawl before you can walk. Or in my case, you must learn to fly before you can backflip. I have not been back to a wind tunnel yet to attempt a backflip, but one day I will and I look forward to that day.
When have you persevered through a new activity? When have you given up before giving it an honest try and can you try it again? Let me know in the comments below.
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Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.