We can all be exceptional…
Recently I began reading Matthew Syed's book "Bounce" which was recommended to me by a friend. I was intrigued by what it was about and dived head first into it. After about 50 pages it really got me thinking. The book is not a work of excellence in the English language and doesn't have any inspirational quotes to get you moving, however it drills into your head that if we take certain steps we can all be exceptional. Case study after case study of superb athletes, mathematicians, chess players and anything and everything that one can excel in. It got me thinking that I too can be exceptional. What is holding me back? Have I read this book 15 years too late? What separates me from these people who are considered "gifted" in their field? Too long have we been held back by the assumption that these people were given special talents or that their circumstances are far different than ours and that we were not afforded the genes to make exceptional possible.
The book gives us several examples of these situations. Well known athletes that have often been depicted as "gifted" when in reality they are just like me, and just like you. Michaelangelo, himself, said that although his paintings seem like the the work of a gifted man, in reality, if people actually saw his first drawings and the hours he put into his work, he would appear more of a result of continuous practise as opposed to someone who was blessed with the ability to paint.
So I ask you, to think of something you want to be good at, It could be playing the piano or running or linguistics, and think of what is holding you back? And then think of something that you do excel at.
You obviously have a passion for whatever it is? for whatever reason, maybe it was ingrained into you as a child. You passion for it makes you want to be better at it, your passion makes you want to do it, therefore you practice. The book "bounce" really shows us the importance of this purposeful practice philosophy. I know most people reading this don't have a burning desire to become the greatest tennis player in the world but we all want to be good at something that often seemed beyond us. Within every one of us is the fantasy that one day we could be excellent at something that seems so far away. I don't care what it is, from being a better driver to improving your memory. There are no limits to how exceptional you can be if you set your mind to it.
I understand that situation has a lot to do with it, but as adults, we have the ability to change our situations to accommodate what we want to do. Maybe you were born in a part of the world where football is thought from a very young age, so you learn the intrincities of the game and by the time you are 24 or 25, you have seen most game situations already and know instinctively how to react when the chips are down or where fashion is a part of every day life and you learn at a young age what looks good, what doesn't and observe a pattern of what may be the next big thing in the fashion world, it can literally be anything. Whatever it is you are exceptional at, or want to be exceptional at. It is not a gift you possess, however it is a passion and an understanding of it that surpasses your peers.
I do not assume we can all be the next Muhammad Ali as their is an underlying determination that has gotten these athletes to where they are. However, if it is a language you want to learn or if you are learning guitar. You can be exceptional at whatever it is you choose to do. We must get rid of the negative attitudes that hold us back, or the automatic pessimism attached to our thinking of something we have always wanted to be good at. We must first decide what we want to be exceptional at. I am referring to a time when you plateau in your pursuit of excellence, when you have seemingly gotten as far as your talent will allow you. This is when we must be strong and continue to practice, become so familiar with your skill that you want to learn more and this will separate you from the people who tried to learn chinese and stopped after a month because their lack of progress and supposed lack of natural talent had become evident. This may seem like an inspirational piece and I hope it is for you, but I do not intend to inspire you with a phrase that uses a play on words to get you thinking or pictures of top athletes in the gym, it is an article written to make us realise that regardless of colour, religion or situation, we can all be excellent if we want to.
"Commitment is doing what you said you would do, long after the mood you said it in has passed"
Filed under: Uncategorized