I’m not a great drummer.
I’m good. I’m competent. I’m solid. And even though I’m not actively playing right now, if I practiced consistently for a few weeks I’d be gig-ready again. But still, I’m not great, and it’s for a simple reason.
I just haven’t played enough.
Now, I’m a great public speaker. I’m a great writer. And it’s for a similarly simple reason: I’ve done those activities a lot. Someone was asking me how I’ve written 7 books in the past few years. Easy. I just write and write and write. Since drumming didn’t stay a part of my life on a daily basis, I never got great at it. I still love playing, but I’ll admit that I’m not a pro.
Making Things Look Effortless Takes Practice
I’ve been listening to the Marc Maron podcast, WTF, where he interviews comedians, musicians, and just about everybody else. I’ve heard interviews with comedy greats like Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon, and John Larroquette in the past few weeks, and all of them talk about how much they worked in the beginning of their career. They took every opportunity (most of them unglamorous) to practice their craft.
It doesn’t take 10,000 hours to get great at a new skill, no matter what Malcolm Gladwell says. For example, Josh Kaufman demonstrated you can learn a new skill in about 20 hours in his popular TED talk. But it definitely takes practice to move from being a beginner to performing skillfully.
If you are already great at something, that fantastic. But the real question is: “What do you want to be great at in the future?” It could be coding a website, running a podcast, or selling like a pro. In ten years, when you look back, what skill do you want to have mastered through consistent engagement?
Whatever your answer is, start today. Make that activity a habit in your life, and there’s a good chance you’ll get great at it.