Hard Work – Where The Magic Happens
This is where the magic happens, by hurling yourself into the abyss of hard work. Through experience comes learning and through learning comes understanding. Through repetition comes confidence and from confidence comes performance. Many people look at the Einsteins, the sports stars or the great musicians of this world and they see glamour, private jets, and money.
What they fail to see or rather choose to ignore are the thousands of hours of repetition of mostly monotonous tasks; the deep practice. They forget that every master was once a beginner and every professional was once an amateur. They see the show but fail to consider what goes on behind the scenes. The rehearsals, the auditions, and the many hours spent looking and feeling like a beginner remain unseen. They never witnessed the tears, the pain and the suffering that one must endure to become a master of their craft. Suffering must not be looked at as something negative, but something that is necessary. Suffering, in the present moment, is often brutal but it allows us to gain great perspective and appreciation for how difficult some things are.
Spoiler Alert – Hard Work is Hard.
Oftentimes it is messy and oftentimes it is ugly but the professional shows up, day after day and this is where the genius exists. World class performance doesn’t reside in the natural abilities of a person but rather in the unforgiving terrain that is hard work and doing difficult things repeatedly. Practice makes permanent and through the correct practice, one can ingrain mastery. We must not look at mastery as some god-like substance that cannot be attained by us mere mortals but rather recognize it for what it is. It is repetition, it is sacrifice and ultimately, it is the continuum of hours upon hours of work. The right work. Focused, undistracted and unconcerned with the competition.
While you try to hurl yourself into the abyss of hard work there are elements acting upon us which we cannot see, like the gravity that pulled Newton’s apple toward the earth. At first, we are unaware of these elements acting upon us but through awareness, we gain an understanding of what they are and what they do. They try to sap our energy, change our focus and alter our state of being. They are distractions, the antimatter of mastery. These distractions are local, they are our vices, our crutches and our ways of being in which we revert to seek the instant gratification we so crave in the 21st century. These things are social media, iPhones, television, and entertainment. They detach us from reality and make us seek the unattainable reality of icons.
Is What You See Reality?
Social media creates icons and icons are not real. Icons are people like you and me. They sleep, they eat and they shit. Icons are stories, oftentimes fictitious stories or at the very least, semi-fictitious. The images we see on social media paint a picture so far from reality, we fall victim to the pursuit of an empty life. A life concerned with likes and shares rather than experiences and the pursuit of excellence. The one who chases likes and social norms is oftentimes the one most uncomfortable in their own skin. Likes and shares won’t instill mastery. Everything you need exists within. Of course, we can have teachers and mentors but these people should be people whom you admire, people who live by the morals and ideas that you value. These teachers should be the books you read and the content you consume.
Ask yourself the difficult questions and be ruthless with the answers. What you see in yourself might scare you. Grow your awareness through reflection and understand that the ego must be tamed. The ego can ruin any great performer. The ego is what distracts us in the first place. It tells us to seek instant gratification and talks to us in a reassuring voice that “everything will feel better if you can achieve X or Y”. This is BS. Happiness does not reside in pleasure nor in achievement. Happiness, from what I understand resides in congruency (discussed here and here), in living in accordance with your morals, your ideas, hopes, and dreams. It doesn’t lie in your degree, the accolades you acquire or the tournaments you win. That kind of thinking will leave you stranded, like a ship without a compass. Achievements give you pleasure and satisfaction, not happiness.
The Obstacle is The Way
As Seneca once said, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable”, and thus, we must set a direction and adjust our sails accordingly. The universe is under no obligation to make sense to us, but it is our job to adjust our sails and pick up our anchors for ships are built for sailing and not to sit in the harbor. So do not become stuck by reading too many books on a subject or planning too far ahead, hurl yourself into the abyss for this is where the learning happens.
We learn through experience. Books can help us navigate the murky waters of life, of course, but oftentimes we become stuck, unwilling to just jump in and face the struggle. The truth is that we will feel shit about it and it will beat us up but being told how something feels and actually feeling it are two completely different things. The obstacle is the way and what stands in the way, becomes the way. There are no shortcuts or magic potions and the sooner we can grasp that idea the better. So dive in and be comfortable being you. If the only thing you achieve in life is that you’re 100% comfortable being you, then you have gone a long way to mastering this thing we call life.
In order to achieve, we must suffer, it is a part of life and if it can be endured, endure it, for this is where the magic happens.