What is holding you back to developing skills that you truly want? Are you persistent about the right skill for you? Do you actually even know what skill you want to develop?
What is persistence?
“The quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people”. This is the definition that is given by Websters dictionary. My definition is, “the ability to focus on one skill over a period of time that a person is passionate about and wants to develop”. These pair of definitions sum up what is needed in order to developing skills that you want. However, I always say developing one core skill is the best way to go about it. The reason I say one skill is, because anyone can be persistent at trying countless different things continually. Most humans can’t be persistent at one for a long period of time. Persistence is the attribute that will give you the finest chance at getting exceptional at what you want to do. Forget talent. That has nothing to do with persistence. Talent is a excellent starting point, but without persistence, talent isn’t progressing anywhere. And if you have talent in something that you aren’t being persistent in, most likely it’s not the skill that you would like to be talented in. Here is an interview with Will Smith basically describing what it means to be passionately persistent about a developing skills. I used to struggle with being persistent with doing the equivalent thing over and over when developing one skill. I came to realize that for me it is a combination of not knowing EXACTLY what I want to become skillful at, and then also subconsciously creating distractions that at no time let me put as much time in developing that skill. I could have been persistent at a single thing for a short period of time when I wanted to, but I was consistently going from one thing to another in the long term. Nothing can beat expanding a skill over a period of time that you are devoted to. You get to experience the ups and downs and see the growth that you have matured over time. You get to meet the people that are developing compatible skills as you are. And most notably, all doubt has been evacuated from your mind. You recognize that you are wholeheartedly developing/enjoying the skill that you want. This video of an interview with Will Smith highlights the structure of becoming persistently passionate.
As Will Smith says in this interview…..The first part of advancing the attribute of being persistent is figuring out WHAT SKILL DO I WANT DO DEVELOP? He calls it “Making a choice”. I’m not going to mention “What do you want to do with your life”? That’s to broad and whenever anyone thinks in those terms they think about many contrasting things that they want to do. Often times, what the person will come up with is, that they want to win the lottery or that they want to do something that will grant them to not have to do anything in the future. That’s just a trap. That’s not what I am talking about. I mean an expertise that you sincerely appreciate evolving. This is the key. And life experience gives you a lot of opportunities to figure this out. If you are lucky, you figure it out in your 20’s. Most people have a clear idea in their early 30’s. It takes time! But if you don’t have an idea of what you want to develop, then you aren’t going to be persistent. And if you are being persistent developing a skill you aren’t passionate about, you are not going to be happy.
When I think of a skill that I would like to develop I tend to be drawn to skills that have a few qualities. They have no set criteria on how to evolve them. Another words, you are able to use one of the supreme qualities we are given, which is creativity. A skill that has infinite potential to develop. And a skill that you can develop the rest of your life.
This is commonly a skill that doesn’t rely mostly on physical ability, because we know that physical ability will start deteriorating someday. A skill that you can continually raise your mind set to a higher level on. And then obviously a skill that you are passionate about. For me that is writing. I savor it, I can be as original as I want, and I can develop it the rest of my life. Also, I can continually raise the bar in my mind of how quality the articles are that I write.
What skill do I enjoy doing for no reason at all? You just are ecstatic about it! You aren’t doing it for another reason.
It just takes a little evaluation to see what this skill is. If you analyze your life you will start to see what you are naturally drawn to. And sometimes, that gets suppressed so you can pursue what you think you “should” be doing. But in this world should and should not can drop from your vocabulary. Especially when we are discussing developing a skill that you are ecstatic about.
Once you figure out what skill you want, you have gotten the GIGANTIC hurdle out of the way. Who would think that the largest hurdle is figuring out what skill is for you? It is. The other hurdles seem to come into play more when you are iffy on what you want.
Once you figure this out and start pursuing what skill you want to build, there are always going to be distractions along the way. However, these distractions are minimal if you know what you want. If you don’t, you will have a harder time handling them. That is why the first step is so important.
One of the enormous distractions is money. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone that I am talking to about what they want to do, tell me that if they had more money they would be able to do their passion for a living. But money should never be what you evaluate first when doing anything. Society is tremendous at conditioning everyone that money is the most valuable thing to consider when thinking about what to do with your life. To an extent money does play a factor, but it should not make you resist developing the skill that you want to develop.
Another distraction is the societal pressure to fit in. It takes a ton of individual persistence to keep on doing something when you are listening to other people’s opinions and the vulnerability that you might fail. But if you are loving the skill you are developing every moment you do it, you aren’t failing.
If you allow yourself to get off track and start doing many diverse things at once, this will be a huge distraction as well. That is what I have repeatedly been aware of myself as my biggest distraction. I think it goes deeper than the distraction of doing to many things at once. It is more about fear of getting to far into one thing, that you won’t be able to retreat to your place of comfort. It’s like dipping your foot in the pool and getting a little wet, but ultimately being fearful of doing a cannonball off the high dive. Also known as commitment phobia. Looking for something new and fresh is always good too, but you probably are not going to get anywhere without sticking to that one skill you are trying to evolve for a long period of time. The exception to this is if the various things that you are concentrating on are generally using the same skills. For example, my friend paints and plays the guitar. Using his creativity in both of these skills only contributes to getting better in both. So it can be a distraction if you are spending to much time doing something that takes away from your development of your ideal skill. It just depends if you are generally using the same types of skills in the various things you are doing.
Once you have the skill 100% figured out, can you be persistent at it?
It comes down to developing skills that you can make a #1 priority in your life. It takes skill to be able to tune out the distractions and still keep it your #1 priority. That’s why I say that persistence is sometimes a very hard attribute to develop.
The reason that I defined persistence the way I did in developing a skill that you are passionate about, is because it makes the most sense. Yea you could argue that it isn’t the true definition of persistence. But the way I defined it is the way you can perceive it the correct way. The best way to develop the purest persistence is to start off figuring out the skill you want, and then being persistent while maneuvering around distractions. That is the kind of persistence that will take your development as a person and that particular skill to another level. I know I repeated that you have to figure out the skill you want over and over throughout this article, but the point is to really get you to question yourself. Am I currently pursuing the skill that I want to develop and making it my #1 priority? If you can answer yes to that question, then persistence is easy.