Newsflash: Excellence Requires Work

I do a bunch of things fairly well, some just so-so, and what I can’t do well I can usually figure out.  Or at least I’ll TRY.  Because there’s a lot of reward and enjoyment in conquering a new challenge, picking up a new skill.  On the other hand there’s some stuff that I just can’t seem to grok so I phone a friend before I start banging my head against a wall.  I call that KNOWING WHEN TO GET HELP.  Of all the skills I have this is probably the most valuable on a day-to-day basis.  Why figure out how to build a rocket to jump the Grand Canyon when you can just call up Evel Knievel and ask? 

Case in point:  As much as I’d like to think I can easily create music from scratch I really can’t, at least not now.  Sure, I can create a riff  but a fully integrated piece of music seems beyond me.  Like there’s something I’m not understanding or seeing – a blind spot.  Some might call that the talent gap.  I don’t even want to get into writing lyrics…

Don’t know if you’ve heard Lippy Kids by Elbow, which, to me, seems like it’s pretty much about  living through those golden summer times of our youth where anything and everything was possible – at least that’s how I read it… anyway, here’s an excerpt:

Lippy kids on the corner again

Lippy kids on the corner again

Settling like crows

Though I never perfected the simian stroll

The cigarette senate was everything then

Do the know those days are golden

Build a rocket boys

Build a rocket boys!

One long June

I came down from the trees

and kerbstone cool

You were a freshly painted angel

Walking on walls

Stealing booze and hour-long kisses

And nobody knew me at home

Admittedly I’m nutty for this band but point is, HOW DOES ANYONE EVEN THINK THAT KIND OF STUFF UP!?!??! 
I find this on an order of excellence that I’ve never come close at in anything I can recollect.  Now, I’m not being down on myself or anyone else – there’s a huge value, to yourself and society, in being very good in several things without being excellent in any one.  For one I actually think it’s key to being a good project manager.  And there are certainly some folks who are naturally better at some tasks than other folks.  Factoring in innate ability I think it really comes down to a level of focus – an ability to run down to a point of exhaustion and put every ounce of what you have in.  Sort of like being, um…anti-lazy?  The word for that escapes me at the moment.  Dedicated is maybe the right one.  Maybe invested?  Anyway, I tend to bail before that point because usually that final mile seems harder than the twenty four you just ran to get there and 96% percent is good enough, right? Funny that I should use a running analogy because that’s the most recent experience I have where there can be as many hurdles in your head as there are in the real world but once you’ve already done something once half the head game goes poof!

In any case I’ve been living through a pretty golden time of late – experiencing new things, being in new places both geographically and relationship wise – and I think I’m ready to “buckle down”, as my mom would put it, and really put in some… work?  But not in the way prior where I had creative itches that absolutely needed scratching, that’s compulsion, more like a picking my own creative course because waiting for unmanaged urges to drive you forward is like waiting for the wind to lift your sails when you’re at sea.  You can be waiting an awfully long time… or you can break out the oars and start rowing.  So I’m going to pick one project from the multitude in my head and run it down to completion.  Be… anti-lazy. We’ll see how that goes.  🙂

2 thoughts on “Newsflash: Excellence Requires Work

  1. I agree about Guy Garveys lyrics but I wouldn’t beat yourself up. I know he doesn’t find it easy him self.

    But his lyrics really are poetry and the imagery he creates with so few carefully chosen words is astounding. I love the line about “one late June, I came down from the trees… ” .. he’s followed through with the simian imagery with evolution while talking about growing up, maturing, becoming an adult during those long school holidays, long summers trying to impress the girls. Its a whole period of life and experiences we can all relate to conjured up 9 simple words.

    Seriously underrated. But then I’m nutty about them too.

    Talking of evolution .. there’s very sound reasons why there are generalists and specialists, extroverts and introverts, leaders and followers. They’re all essential and responsible for our survival as a species. Once you accept which one you are you can take advantage of it and be a lot happier.

    1. Agreed, Pat, and thanks for posting!
      Time, effort, and talent. Yeah, I can’t imagine that being a Mercury award winner is something that happens without significant work. I watched an interview with the band on YouTube when The Seldom Seen Kid came out and was surprised to learn they’d been at it for 18 years! New to me but not to the rest of the world. Or their world I should say since I don’t think they were doing much traveling prior to Seldom Seen Kid. Far as I know they only did two US shows for it.

      Yes there are very sound evolutionary reasons for generalists and specialists and I’m definitely making the most of being the former and there are probably more avenues available to me then I’m able to see at the moment. The dreams will drive me. Certainly an interesting life either way. 🙂

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