Lately I have been listening to motivational speakers with some regularity, just because they make me think about my life. It can’t hurt to take some time to think about the things that are part of your daily life.
Often times these motivational speakers say a lot of the same things about how to get more out of your life, but one of these sayings has stuck with me.
‘You’ve got to love the grind’ (John Calipari).
Or maybe I should put it like my dad always did: ‘Life is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration’.
I see it in everything around me: the things you are good at don’t just come to you, you need to work for them. A quick fix is an illusion (or a bad solution), because without time and effort nothing happens. Without time and effort you don’t grow.
When you listen to a fantastic musician you’ll think ‘I wish I could play like that’. Once behind your harp at home it is usually not as easy; the piece is harder than you thought, it doesn’t sound as effortless as you’d like or you keep making the same mistakes every time… Soon you’ll be thinking ‘I wish I was talented like them’.
But you are selling that person short; you are selling yourself short!
In our society we look up to people who can do something really well; these are people with “talent”. We look at how great this person is at the time, but we forget to look at all the past years in which this talented person worked very hard to get where he/she is now. It sounds like a fairy-tale: you started playing the harp and now you are world famous. But all those hours in which you sat alone behind your harp, all those highs and lows you had in the process are conveniently left out of the conversation.
This fairy-tale gives us the idea that anything we do needs to produce an instant result, the idea that if you don’t have “talent” you are better off not even starting. But it doesn’t work like that: life is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Living only for that 10% makes for 90% of your time spent behind your harp to not be fun (or at least less fun), which makes it hard to stick with! So once you start loving the grind, you’ll have fun in a big part of those 90% as well. Start having fun discovering and correcting your mistakes. Turn your technique exercises into mindfulness exercises in which you can forget your daily worries. Start a little game with yourself to see if you can play something without any mistakes. Think of ways to start having fun in your daily grind and you’ll start seeing results.
What does this mean for me personally?
I have decided to start giving attention to the things I am not so good at (yet). I have been trying to learn Portuguese for the past 4 years, but I haven’t gotten far because I find learning new words to be really difficult (plus I hate doing it). Now I started using an app which makes learning new words a lot easier. The app is a winner for me; you can set a daily goal for yourself (5 new words a day) and the app makes you do repeats on the words you already know. When I started learning the 5 words took me 5 minutes, but now I’m on 15 minutes daily with all the repeats. My final goal is to be able to speak the language, so I won’t get there only by learning words. The grammar I am learning from a Portuguese schoolbook which I make time for once a week. After each lesson I give myself a little reward for work well done.
All in all I notice that I am not hating learning the new words as much as I did before, even better: I take joy in amazing my husband with all the new words I know. Making sentences is still too hard, but I’ll get there with a smile on my face; I am loving the grind!
What are you (or could be) doing to make your 90% transpiration more fun?