Being good at anything, including your job, requires a lot of work. Many of us desire to be excellent at whatever we do, however the aspiration of greatness is never enough. Alongside that desire must be relentless work. Let’s delve a little deeper into what “work” looks like.
Some things, whether we like it or not, are just law. If you want to be exceptional at anything you have to practise, practise, repeat, and then practise some more before you practise again. Natural ability and talent are very valid but even those need to be honed over and over again till mastery level is attained. There are levels to this practise thing and if you want to really do it well, then you have to practise intentionally. You need to be deliberate about your goals which should be S.M.A.R.T. - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. One way that motivates me to practise is having defined answers to What? Why? How? When? Who? Where?
I want to be better at articulating my thoughts in work meetings.
I will watch videos on public speaking, pick a topic of my choice and record myself speaking on it. I will assess myself objectively based on the things I learnt from the videos I watched. I will track my progress in every recording using a set criteria - “How many times did I stumble on my words?”. “How many times did I have awkward gaps?”. “How many times did I lose my train of thought?”. “How many times did I repeat myself?”.
I will practise for 1 hour everyday and I want to be good in 2 months.
I have a lot of great ideas but that doesn’t come across to my colleagues and boss because I’m not able to articulate and communicate these ideas convincingly enough for them to be bought.
Identify people who can help me with this goal.
Identify locations or platforms I need to execute my plans.
Having these questions answered in as much detail as possible will help in giving you focus and direction with your goals. Goals need to be broken down into steps if we actually want to achieve them.
I don’t know about you, but left to me I will do everything when I want and how I want. In other words, Netflix and Chill, and of course non-stop eating, will be the order of the day everyday. Unfortunately, sensei status cannot be achieved this way. Self-discipline involves you sticking to what you’ve planned whether you feel like it or not.
Success rarely, if at all, happens without discipline and I’m pretty sure everyone reading this wants to be successful. Even though our definition of success will inevitably differ, one thing is constant - to achieve whatever success is to you, you need to cultivate good habits which are birthed out of self-discipline.
It’s about saying “no” because it’s the right thing to say even though your whole existence is screaming “YES!!!”. It’s about sacrificing temporary pleasure for long term satisfaction. It is hard, yes! Impossible? Absolutely not! Tackling difficult events and overcoming obstacles as you’re journeying to the land of success can be laborious and demoralising; whoever told you the journey is a walk in the park lied to you. Embrace the journey for what it is knowing fully well that when you get to your destination you’ll thank yourself. As they say, “nothing good comes easy”, and although I don’t totally agree with this statement, I echo its sentiments. “If it was easy, everyone would do it”; everyone would be successful.
So get off your lazy butt and do what YOU said, yesterday, that you’ll do today. Yeah, I’m talking to you! Actually, I’m talking to me.
Imagine you picked up a guitar for the first time and you’re trying to learn how to play well. Now imagine only practicing once every other week. Crazy right? You’d probably be a beginner forever. If you want to be good at anything you have to be consistent at doing that thing.
“I work everyday and I’m still not good at my job”. How true is that though? If you aren’t good at your job then you’re likely to be fired or on the verge of being fired. Rather, there are specific things you want to improve on and that’s where your consistency game has to be on point.
Rome wasn’t built in a day but I’m pretty sure they were building daily with “off days” here and there. So you want to articulate your thoughts well in your zoom meetings? Practise consistently and you’re guaranteed improvement. Also remember quality over quantity. A few minutes everyday will serve you better than 3 hours in one day every other week.
Not being good at something you really care about and want to be good at can bring about a feeling of inadequacy and incompetence; it takes courage to admit it. However, being in denial about your ability will do you no good. You have to come to terms with how difficult what you’re trying to achieve may be and choose boldness everyday to face the challenges, the disappointments, and the failures. Sometimes we talk about vulnerability only in relation to other people, however I think being vulnerable with oneself is important and requires even greater strength and courage. The fear of being seen as weak, uninformed, or a failure can actually hinder growth and keep us in comfortable zones, but in the words of Gina Milicia, “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”.
Good things take time and it is imperative to develop the capacity to be patient otherwise you’ll always quit everything at the slightest perception of hardship. Achieving your dreams and goals don’t just happen, you have to make them happen. You have to breathe life into them. You have to water those seeds and do all the necessary tendering to make them flourish into beautiful plants. You also need to patiently watch them grow. The next time you feel like giving up on your goal of being great at what you do, remember that if you stop trying it’ll never happen.
What do you want to be so good at? Think about it and write it down. With practising intentionally, being disciplined, consistency, courage, and patience you will be well on your way to achieving it.