Chop Wood, Carry Water

Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Can you think of people who just seem to have amazing skills? Natural’s who effortlessly excel in their chosen fields?

Or people who work hard, but get really solid results day after day?

Did you ever wonder how they did the things they do? If they had something you didn’t?

They might, but I don’t think that that’s where they’re getting their crazy skills from.

Cliche as it might sound, I think most of it comes from hard work. Raw effort doesn’t do anything, but deliberate practice over time does.

I was talking with a really exceptionally awesome guy the other day, and he’s really good at sales, to understate it.

When he reads a book, he tries to do a mind-chart of it afterwards, drawing the connections between all of the major and minor ideas of the book — what’s related to what, what leads to what, etc.

Then he looks for ways to apply the ideas that he read about everywhere else in his life.

For example, a piano book said that he should practice playing fast (when you play slowly, your form is worse, and when you practice using bad form, it makes things harder in the future). He was also trying to learn japanese, so he practiced saying his sentences really quickly.

He also regularly reviews his notes on books, and can recommend his favorite 35 sales books to you.

Now, none of those steps were magical.

You wouldn’t necessarily come up with the idea to do all of that yourself, but you’re probably physically capable of doing all of those steps.

For a while, I was assuming that if progress was taking too long, that I was doing something wrong and should abandon what I’m doing.

This wasted lots of calendar time.

I’m starting to think that most improvement comes from incremental progress doing fairly obvious things. Taking notes, reading books, reviewing notes, practicing something, writing down what you think,  getting feedback, trying to do things, finding mentors, talking to people, practicing a skill, coming up with examples, adding habits, etc. Some things are somewhat counterintuitive, but you can always just experiment.

Physically, most skillful people are mostly doing things that you could do. Now, they might be thinking different thoughts as they do them, and responding in different ways, but the initial journey is pretty straightforward.


About atucker

Provisional pronouncements and (hopefully) honest mistakes. I'd like to be differently wrong about things, and helpful to the world.
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One Response to Chop Wood, Carry Water

  1. Shanna Mann says:

    I’ve always found that the most crucial thing to do is to orient your knowledge; cross-link it with other information, topics, concepts.

    Love that cross-application, taking advice from piano technique and applying it to learning Japanese.

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