The Hurdle is Lower Than You Think

I said here that to gain confidence requires competence in something. That means finding something you’re good at, whether that’s playing the guitar or rock climbing. Find that thing, and do it. Not only is it important to develop skills for confidence sake, but to also because some skills transfer to other aspects of your life. For example, improving in public speaking lends a hand to seduction techniques, and visa versa. Learning to fix an appliance gives you the knowhow and confidence to repair other things.


You might be hesitant to act because you have no idea how to start, or the mountain before you seems too great. Before you jump in to learning something new, the gap between what you know and what you’d like to know is intimidating, so much that it might put off some people from trying altogether.


But so what? Everyone started with knowing nothing about everything. Here’s the thing: the climb isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems from the bottom.


You start knowing nothing, but if you’re able to learn the basic 10% of the subject, you are now prepared to learn the next 20%, which in mastering allows you learn the next 30%, and from there allows you to scale up to 90% completion. The ability to acquire knowledge increases as you acquire more knowledge. The path is exponential, to a point. The first 10% and the last 10% of any endeavor will usually be the longest and most difficult. The former is difficult because you know nothing going in and the groundwork needs to be done. The latter is difficult because you are fine-tuning your expertise. Everything in between is an escalating scale that incorporates things you already know with new ideas and experimentation.


Think of it like the progression of a video game. You must first understand the basic mechanics and rules. When that is complete, you use those mechanics in ever more complex scenarios, adding more tools at every level. Once you get to the endgame, having mastered all the mechanics and having been through most every environment with those mechanics, you are now tasked with using radically different strategies against other thinking humans.


Composers, musicians, actors, writers and craftsmen all go through similar curves.


In my case, I knew nothing about writing years ago except how to do basic grammar, and even that was a stretch. But once I learned the basics, I could see the deeper machinations of the craft – structure, pacing, etc – which allowed me to learn more. To sit me down beforehand and tell me all I’d have to eventually know would have overwhelmed me enough to quit.


One of the best ways to kill your motivation is to stack the hurdles on top of each other when, in reality, they are lined up behind each other. Don’t psych yourself out by putting all the steps together in one. Internalize that whatever you seek to master is merely a progression.



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