Letters of Life

How to Get Good At Something Without Really Trying

Run

Run (Photo credit: aylaujp)

This morning, I ran with a girl friend. At the end of the five-kilometre route, she said I was faster than before. What was my trick?

I said I only ran once a week, and at most 7 km, if it came to that. Mostly, my runs averaged only 40 minutes.

She pointed out that all this while (the past 6 months or s0), I’d been running with the masculine of the species.

That, she said, was the trick. Running with people who are naturally faster and stronger makes someone as competitive as I pick up my pace because one thing I hate is getting left behind. And I know these people were being kind by either slowing down, or stopping a while in the name of interval training, or whatever.

I am not ambitious. I never made it a point to intentionally run with people faster and stronger than I, but that, as Cookie Monster has said before, is how the cookie crumbled. I couldn’t help that the running buddies who showed up at the Saturday runs or weekday morning runs tended to be the alpha males.

Afterall, the whole point of running is so that one has a very good excuse to pig out later.

Extrapolating from all this, I realize that getting good at something, anything, especially things you don’t really mean to get really good at, boils down to these two things:

1. Consistency. Even if it’s just something you get to do once a week, do it once a week. The results will come eventually.

2. Hang out with people who are naturally better at the task/game/play than you are. The competitor in you might chaff at the idea, but the principle of pacing works in your favour here.

That’s it. Of course there’s the discipline of practicing every day, working on your goal every day, aiming to get good at what you love. But here, I’m just talking about something that can happen to you along the way as you sweat the other stuff. You might suddenly find you got good at something else because you were consistent and showed up, and you did those things together with friends who were better at it than you.

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