“I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going.”Sylvester Stallone
If it takes 10,000 hours (give or take) of deliberate practice to master something, then why do most of us never reach mastery in the things that we love?
Likely because continuously challenging yourself and pushing your capabilities to the limit day after day, year after year is… well… hard (to put it mildly). But luckily, working on a skill daily doesn’t take the 5+ years first to see results. Each day’s effort builds on the last. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, every time you sit down to write, or practice pitching your idea or work on your art you are building and cultivating change.
The people who tend to go farthest are the ones who keep going.
If you enjoy in a creative or entrepreneurial expression, then why not just keep doing it?
I think two main things prevent us from mastery: Inaction and Inertia.
The first thing that trips us up is inaction, or in other words, ‘deer in the creative headlights’ syndrome. Starting is difficult because of all the fear, doubt, limitations and other mental games that drive us to never take a chance, but once we find a way to break through those barriers, going becomes much easier. Momentum is the oil and grease that keeps our tires turning. Not to toot my own tuba, but after 700+ of daily blogging, I feel confident in my ability to write one post every day. Will it be amazing everyday? I doubt it. But each day gives me a chance to improve the quality of my thinking and storytelling abilities. But when you haven’t started yet, writing that many blogs seems overwhelming. That’s why you need to focus on the least common dominator: today’s practice. Pour all your efforts into making something. It doesn’t have to be amazing. It just has to exist. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Butt in seat. Small adds up. Forget that for now and focus on taking one step towards prioritizes your life the way you want it to look.
Inertia is the second category that trips us up. It’s perhaps even more deadly than inaction because it can happen at any moment. You didn’t sleep well so you decide to skip the workout today. Or you sprain your ankle, or injury yourself and have to take some time off to recover. Annnnnd cue never going to the gym again. You have the worst day of your life and you forget to practice the piano. One day off leads to two leads to ten to never.
When we are doing well, everything is moving great. The train is confidently full steam ahead. But one failure, setback, misstep, sick day, lazy impulse and we’re derailed. And if we don’t pick ourselves back up immediately, it’s extremely difficult to pick it back up.
I’ve felt the sting of inertia firsthand. Early this year I went through the TechStars Business Accelerator in Austin. I was maxed out on time and limited on space, so I have to put my podcast the Renaissance Life on hiatus. It was only a couple of months, but it completely derailed me. I’ve been working on it since then, I’ve got a new artwork cover, a few podcast episodes record and currently being edited, but it’s taken me months to pick back up the momentum I lost. It’s okay. It happens. But stopping right now would feel like a failure to me. Instead I’m doubling down on podcasting.
There’s two things I know we can do when dealing with Inertia: reduce the gap, and double down. If you miss a day, then start immediately the following day. If you miss a week, then start immediately the following week. If you fail at something, try something else right away. The more we can reduce the gap, the less momentum we lose. And if you truly enjoy something, until you get back up to speed, double down and commit to it as long as it takes to get back on track.
Failure and setbacks happen. Don’t let that keep you from pursuing your dreams.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #727