Thursday, June 24, 2010

Devil's in the details...

We all say it, but let’s acknowledge it for real.

What are we talking about? Okay what AM I talking about??

The principle of the thing.

Let’s say for a moment that you’re a successful Flatulest. You have been working at it all of your life and you’ve become good. People even acknowledge that you are good.

There are lots of people at your level of skill though. You are good but you aren’t great. Greatness is a whole different level of skill.

So how do you get there? What makes the difference between good and great?
Partly through hard work, self-evaluation, experimentation, etc. but in the end, all of those things serve to elevate your overall skill.

It has been my experience that those who have great skill in a thing, anything, are those who have mastered the details of a thing and have elevated those details through persistence in practice, self-evaluation, study, etc. and have become fluent in them.

Don’t settle for a lower level of success just because it will work and it’s good. Strive to be the best by continually learning and developing the nuances of a thing.

The next step then is to grow your repertoire through the same process. Don’t settle for just what will get it done-even if it gets it done well. Next time, take that a bit farther.

Another component is to acknowledge what you have natural potential at being great at. You personally may never be a great Flatulest. So what? Whatever your skills are, develop them. Develop your strengths and continually challenge yourself to understand the nuances of a thing. You will grow if you do that. You will rob yourself if you try to become great at a thing that is not a strength.

I believe it is a mistake to think that you cannot become great at a thing—even a complicated thing. It’s a fact that the more complicated a thing is, the more attention you must pay to the details. The more that must take place for it to be successful but just imagine if Beethoven or Mozart had said that they didn’t want to try something more complicated because they might eventually do a concert and that could be stressful and under stress they might not be able to perform it right…. Where would music be today?

What if Gates had said, he didn’t want to make a computer that processed a bunch of things nearly simultaneously because it could get hot and burn up a processor or data might get lost? Okay… we’d still have the Mac but… well… hopefully you’re catching my drift.
As I look at things around me. My life. Other people’s lives. It seems that the difference between things that are good and great doesn’t appear significant, yet there are so few of us who ever obtain “great” in a thing. Why?

From what I can tell, it appears that it’s about all those attributes I’ve listed previously. Implementing them relentlessly and pursuing the right thing. It’s about setting your sights high and pulling the trigger.

As an example. When you start out shooting a rifle. Initially you learn the basics of shooting and you feel pretty good when you can finally plinck a can or hit the broadside of a barn at 50m, then 100m, and maybe even 150m or 200m. But shooting something at 1200m or further, the size of a paper plate or… a body… is something few of us will ever do but not because we couldn’t—it’s because we don’t move into great intentionally.

That’s unfortunate because the process for shooting something that far is not that different. It requires steadiness, control of breathing, understanding of windage and elevation, proper caliber, practice, practice, practice, etc. Much of which still come into play at close range but become even more important the further away the target is.

You can claim that something is unattainable as a matter of letting yourself off the hook… OR you can take aim at great…

To contextualize this in regards to pencak silat, let's look at the skills you develop. A lot of people will tell you that in the moment high level skills won't work because... well... they are high level and under great stress your mind, body, etc. just can't do everything it needs to. My experience is that this is somewhat true, but partially crap.

My own experience suggests that if you train high level skills, not settling for caveman crap, but train the high level skills so that they become mundane, that you are very capable of doing high level skills under stress.

It is true that mediocre skills, good skills even, may not help under times of great stress, but skills that you've grown to the point of greatness will.

The bigger issue is recognizing those skills that you want to become great in and aiming for them. Don't try to become great in every skill that there is. That will just dilute those things that you have the greatest potential in. If you're right-handed, focus on being right-handed. If you like to box, then box the best you can. If you like knife, know it intimately.

Pay attention to the details and take the next step.


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