Something I noticed not too terribly long ago, is that I have a relatively unique(calm down, I’m sure I’m not the only one, hence the qualifier “relatively”) combination of characteristics: I want to be the absolute best at something, but I am very, very unmotivated to do anything about it. Strange, I know, but let me explain.

I don’t want to be the best in the world. I don’t want to be the only person on the planet who knows, oh I don’t know ,how to calculate at what depth soda cans crush themselves in the ocean for example.  I just want to be the best at something, that all of the people I know, know.  Let’s say I want to be the best at darts. I don’t need to be a world champion or anything, but it would be nice to be the best at darts of thew people I spend any amount of time with.

Here’ where things get a little difficult. I don’t have any one thing that I’m anywhere close to that good at.  It’s not like I could just devote a few more hours a week at Activity X and I’d be pretty awesome a few months down the road.  I’m painfully average at almost any skill-based activity. Being average is a LONG way from being the best I know.

The next big snag is this: I have practically zero motivation to focus on anyone thing long enough to get good at it.  I tend to try to blame that lack of motivation on the fact that I tend to pick up the basic skills for most things relatively quickly. The trouble comes when I inevitably plateau after the initial spurt of learning.Without the obvious growth and progress, I quickly get disheartened. After that the frustration kicks in, which leads to boredom and eventually the abandonment of said activity for something else.

So, in short, I have a great desire to be extraordinary, and not much motivation or focus to get there. That tends to lead to quite a bit of disappointment. IT also lends itself to a sort of “Jack-of-All-Trades” sort of skill set when it comes to games, home improvement, cooking, and most anything that requires practice to be good at.

Maybe my brain subconsciously thinks a little like Allen Iverson,

“I know it’s important, I honestly do but we’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice man. We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We’re not talking about the game. We’re talking about practice.”

Maybe my brain thinks it can be good at something without having to go through the painstaking hours of practice required to be truly excellent at something. Malcolm Gladwell mentions in his book Outliers(excellent book, by the way, although my wife doesn’t agree) that 10,000 hours seems to be the threshold for being exceptional at a particular task. I would guess I don’t have any more than a few hundred hours logged at any specific task except maybe eating, breathing, sleeping and reading. I can’t manage to stick with anything else for very long at all.

I don’t know whether it’s a motivation issue, or a focus issue or if I’m just one of a few people with a stupendous collection of characteristics that work together to undermine me. Whatever it is, it’s a frustrating combination of desire vs. something that ends in me being pretty good and just okay at a lot of different things and very good at none of them.

Maybe I just need to practice. Allen Iverson would not approve, but Coach Larry Brown probably would.

-Chris

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