You hear it all the time, “he/she is a natural.” “The kid is an expert at 22.” “They did [insert climb/performance/activity] with excellence beyond their years.”
No doubt, the world of both climbing and music (both performance oriented activities) have seen increasingly amazing performances from a wide cast of participants in recent years. Younger people doing harder and harder things, and this post is not to downplay their achievements. To be transparent, their achievements make me honestly question how I have spent me time, and what I hope to accomplish in the grand terms of my life. In the greater lens of life beyond sport and music, I believe firmly that real excellence is usually harder won than some youth would have us think.
This week in the home performance contracting world, once again I bit off more than I could chew. Our belief as a company is that your home is a system, and all the parts and sub-systems have to work appropriately for the system to deliver real performance. I estimated what it would take to insulate the thermal mass element at the UM Dining Greenhouse project- and my estimate came up well short. As a project manager, you’re job is to know how things go- but I’ve still got a lot to learn. Ultimately my team picked up the slack and I still have a hard time letting people people help me (something else I’m looking forward to learning). It happens, and as our master carpenter likes to remind me- “mistakes are the fastest way to learn.” He’s been in this business, learning systems and making mistakes for almost 40 years. Just because it looks simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.
I have high standards for myself- most of my friends and family believe these standards are often too high, and they are probably right. I think most of us want to believe that we are good at what we spend our time doing. That if we are working hard, we must be working well, and that we can achieve “mastery” or “excellence” in everything, and quickly. My experience is to say- no. Mastery is the result of many mistakes, many failures, and many attempts.
I am willing to say that while working harder is not always an indication of progress, failing often might be- so long as you don’t miss the lesson. Humility is a gift, mistakes are opportunities, questions are invaluable. Don’t miss the chance to pick yourself up and keep going.
Excellence is earned.
“I will not make excuses, I will make corrections.” (Gym Jones)