Talent doesn’t exist, only hard work does.
It should be no secret that, in order to get good at something, one must work hard at it. There are people, though, that will use the excuse that they’re simply not genetically or psychologically fit for things that they find difficult, whether it’s the abstract thinking of mathematics or the strict regiment of working out.
The myth that the differences of our baselines — where we start out — has anything to do with how much progress we’re able to make is powerful, but false.
We all start from different places, but we can all end up in the same place — at the finish line. And for some of us, that may take more work than others, and that is unfair, but it’s still possible. Anybody can become good at anything.
And as we progress, the universal standards of acceptance increase. Take this quote from author Anders Ericcson:
If you compare the kind of music pieces that Mozart can play at various ages to today’s Suzuki-trained children, he is not exceptional. If anything, he’s relatively average.
At the start of any project or journey, the beginner must be passionate. It’s near impossible to achieve anything if you don’t have drive from the get go. Of course, passion itself can seem elusive, as I’ve written about before. The best answer is to mentally build strength and flexibility, try out new things that seem difficult or outside what you usually do. There’s something out there for all of us.
However, another truth is that passion, once captured, just as easily can disappear again. When we find something that we enjoy, but then face a new wall of difficulty trying to become better at it, we can become discouraged and abandon it entirely. We move on to something else — something that is also easy in the beginning — and then abandon that, too, once we reach another difficulty.
This is where perseverance comes into play. To grow and nurture a love for something, the beginner must push past where most others decide to quit. Another myth is that once you find something you’re passionate about, all the hard work melts away into something fun.
This simply isn’t true.
There will still be plenty of hard work, and you will often times find yourself in places where you’ll want to quit. You’ll think to yourself that you hate what you’re doing, that you’re no longer passionate about it. But the high of satisfaction will be so much more powerful once you break through it.
Once you decide to dedicate yourself to something, you must apply force in the correct direction. Often times, people think that once they ‘perfect’ a technique, they can go on autopilot, mindlessly completing it over and over again to become better at it. This, too, is untrue.
One cannot improve if they only have a nebulous and large goal of improvement in mind. The only things that can be worked on are the small, concrete things. Deliberately work on each part separately, one at a time. Find ways to gain feedback after each attempt and push yourself to always do things just outside of where you feel comfortable.
Purpose and Hope
Why are you doing what you’re doing? How are you able to connect it to the world — for a higher purpose? Finding true meaningfulness in life has been a quest I’ve been embarking on personally for awhile now. Try to let yourself meditate — step back and understand the bigger picture.
But even more important than that, or anything else I wrote about above, is hope and optimism. It’s not possible to name someone that accomplished anything thinking they weren’t able too.
We were all randomly splattered onto this world without permission or choice. It is a beautiful chaos that, no matter what is broadcasted, we ultimately have no control over. We cannot fully control anything except ourselves, how we think.
The world doesn’t care if we choose to have a positive outlook or a negative one. The pessimists and cynics — those that decide to not bother trying, in assuming the worst — do not create a dent in the universe. Only those that decide they’re foolish enough to try do.
And this optimism cannot come from a safe and comfortable position, either. True optimism can only exist against hardships and improbabilities. You might have others around you that don’t believe in you — or even worse, try to shut you down — but only from their doubt can hope arise.
Recently, I’ve seen a new slew of posts on Medium decrying those who value marketing over content, or create shallow list articles. I’ve gone over these discussions in length three times already (1, 2, 3). But one thing that’s struck me is how ‘content creators’ are usually praised. Those that ‘actually write’ about ‘things’.
I do think this is the best way to fight back — which is why I try to write about whatever is on my mind that particular day, instead of writing about the state of Medium or it’s popular authors.
I am going to preserve, and try my hardest to write every day. Not for the sake of others, or as a way to market myself, but for it’s own sake. That’s what the Wander Notebook is about, writing for the sake of writing. To be open and vunerable enough to publicly display whatever unpolished ideas are swirling around in my mind. Try it, sometime.