“How can I love my medium long enough to create a masterpiece?” ~ Tom Chi
If what you are doing is a slog, it’s unlikely you will get very good at it.
The process of getting good at something, anything, involves a lot of practice.
Much of that practice feels monotonous, even pointless.
But then, one day, I’ve practiced enough, and it starts to feel effortless. Finally, everything clicks, and I think, “I might be getting good at this.”
It’s an infinite game.
But before that idea has time to lodge in my brain, my newfound ability gives me an awareness of a whole other level I can play at. Sure I’ve improved, but look how much better I can be!
And the cycle starts again, more practice, more small gains…
We spend most of our lives on a plateau, working on perfecting our skills, waiting for those sudden connections when we “get it.” But those are few and far between.
We need to learn to love the plateau.
If we are going to get good at anything, a hobby, or a profession, we need to learn to love the practice, to enjoy the plateau.
If we’re living just for the breakthroughs, constantly looking for the epiphanies, we’re likely to burn out when we learn to love the practice as much as the wins; then we can play the long game.
Where in your life have you come to love the practice so much that you don’t think you’ll ever quit? Where are you living just for the endorphin hit from seeing the breakthrough?
P.S. If this idea intrigues you, there’s a short book called Mastery by George Leonard that draws this out in more detail.
P.P.S I also came across this blog post applying this idea to magic tricks and project management. Another perspective on the same idea.