Thoughts on a Life Well Lived


Skill vs. Talent

Innate talent absolutely exists. No arguments here. I even have a few.

Do not dwell on talents though, yours or others'. Rather, think of everything as a developed skill.

Many individuals who rise to the highest achievements in their field - athletics, mathematics, writing, whatever - have an innate skill for those endeavors. There can be no doubt of that fact. Their talent though, is not the determining factor in their success. They all worked with incredible dedication to develop their abilities. They practiced their skill.

Think of mastery (or even proficiency) as a traveled journey. Talent is simply our starting point, where you happened to be dropped on the path. To achieve true mastery, you had better start walking. Sure others may start a bit further down the road, but no matter where you begin, you can always move forward.

Let your success be defined by how you have traveled, not your position along the road relative the others.

The dedication and time that you devote have a much greater effect than does your starting point. Zoom out on the journey. Imagine for a moment that our path is plotted on Google Maps. Zoom out to show the journey as a whole. The exact starting point fades into obscurity, leaving only the view of the entire trip. The starting point becomes relevant, only the dedication you've given to the journey matters. Start moving and stick with it. You'll be amazed how far you can travel.

How do we explain those who seem to exhibit immediate mastery? Their success is not immediate, it just came quickly. To stick with our road analogy, maybe they are a simply a fast runner, or perhaps they have been blessed with a bicycle. They still had to travel the road. Their successes seem immediate, but their journey was just rapid. Perhaps they developed a strong proficiency in a day or two, or even just a few attempts. That is fine. Appreciate their blessing but love that your journey is much different and all your own.

Often those who blaze down the road, do not have a chance to take it all in. They end up further down the road without an understanding or even a memory of how they got there.

If your journey moves slower, appreciate the observation and understanding that you will develop. Take in every beautiful sight. Study every twist, turn, and obstacle in the road. You will develop a heightened knowledge of the road behind you. You will have better learned from the difficult sections to be more prepared for difficulties ahead.

Your acute knowledge of the road will help you guide others through the same journey. Quite often the best coaches and teachers are those who had to work the hardest to develop mastery. They have an intimate knowledge of their journey and serve as the best guides to others. Who would you trust more? A wilderness guide who's blazed through a trail once with blinders on, or one who's measured pace allowed for scrutiny at every step.

When we learn to see everything as a developed skill, we acknowledge our ability to improve. I don't care where you begin, you can always move forward. Staying put is a decision. As soon as you decide you don't have the capacity for something, you don't. By deciding your fate, you determine your fate.

View every ability as a learned skill. Know that improvement is always possible, you simply need to start moving.

Success is measured in how far you've traveled, not in the distance still separating you from where you would like to be.

Rejoice in your pace, no matter the speed.

Appreciate the journey, it is all your own.