Over the years there have been many things that I’ve dismissed as something I can’t do, something I’m not good at. Comforting myself in that it is out of my control. That is simplistic in it’s binary thinking, it is missing the point that I can be better.
Being good or bad at something doesn’t make sense, it needs context, like hot or cold. It is only relative to something else. I am only hot or cold because I would prefer to transition more from one to the other. I am only bad, because I would like to be better.
I made a commitment when I started Reaching Aspiration that I cannot accept these easy excuses and I have found 10 things that I’ve said I’m not good at, and with determination, I am getting better.
I can’t, not I don’t want to
There are also plenty of things I’ve said I’m not good at because it’s not a priority or focus right now. Like playing chess, golf or learning an instrument. They are just things I don’t love the process enough to invest the time needed, I like the outcome. The first two are complex and I don’t think enjoyment is achieved (for me) without a high degree of proficiency. The third I have said the dreaded “I can’t” or the more digestible “I am not naturally a musician.”
It’s not harder, but easier as an adult
Skills are learnable. We are determined that everyone can read and write, drive a car, ride a bicycle. Sure it comes to some quicker, but our expectation is that virtually everyone can do them. Imagine what happens when we use the same determination elsewhere.
The beauty is that I don’t even need the persistence and robustness of a child. I have other transferable skills and experiences. I can read how and do targeted practice, rather than just repetition until it kind of works.
As adults we feel more time constraints, but it only takes about 20hrs to learn a new skill, often less. The key is to focus on the micro-movements or fundamental/core skills, depending on what is needed.
can’t can do top 10 list
I got frustrated twice in a week, by my lack of skill (no longer inability, notice the subtle language change) preventing me from drawing a design I had in my head, so I couldn’t convey the concept as clearly as I would have liked. My philosophy is to focus on amplifying my strengths, while reducing the constraints that are holding me back.
That got me thinking of all the things I’ve said I can’t do over the years.
It was quite revealing how some I have managed to overcome while targeting something else. Such as targeting weight-loss leading me to becoming a runner. I was distracting myself from my limiting beliefs. I am not excellent in any of the below, but I am better.
- Running – “I’m not a runner”… and then I became one and then ran a marathon.
- Sleeping – “I don’t sleep well”… but I learnt to sleep better overcoming a decade of insomnia.
- Being mindful – “My mind never switches off”… but I learned to calm it.
- Breathing – “I was asthmatic as a child”… but I improved my BOLT score 5 fold in a month.
- Morning person – “I’m not a morning person”… but I became one with the morning miracle and now it’s my favourite time of day.
- Saving money – “I’m not good at saving, so I just invest when paid and spend what’s left (sometimes more).”… but I learnt to be a more conscious spender and more frugal.
The first four were during my transformation, the next two are recent additions.
- Drawing – “I’m not good at drawing”… but I am doing a 30 day programme and just a few lessons in, I’m already seeing a dramatic improvement.
- Athlete – “I’m okay, but not really an athlete”… look out for the Athlete Experiment. Base-lines have been measured and now I am in the process of setting the habits.
Next to do
- Remember people’s names – “I’m not good with names.” – This is one I hear all the time and I know there are things that can be done. This is one I’ve dabbled with before.
- Speak a second language or a martial art? – I might need full immersion for this one.
I have cultivated confidence that there is a process and with the right habits, focus and compound effect I can be better. There is the evidence to support this belief, I have overcome some of my most limiting beliefs and if I can, so can you, we can all be better.
What is one skill that you said you couldn’t do and now can? What is on your targeted improvement list? How can you be better?
- Mindset – From Entity (Fixed) to Growth Mindset
- The Art of Learning – Transferable skills from Chess Prodigy to Tai Chi World Champion
- The first 20 hours — how to learn anything