Being Great Is Good, Being Okay Is Good Enough
By Warren Bujol
10,000 Hours of Deliberate Practice
They say it takes 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" to become a master of something. That may not seem like much, but that's just because the unit time is measured in hours. If we were to change that unit of measure to something else — say the time it takes to watch Dances With Wolves, we can see just how much effort is required. Let's look at this statement again. It takes 2,544.52 Dances With Wolves of "deliberate practice" to become a master at something. That doesn't mean casually watching Kevin Costner break down communication barriers with the Lokata Indians while you check Facebook on your phone. It is sitting still and listening to every single word of an almost four hour movie, 2,544.52 times with no bathroom breaks. I don't know about you, but I don't even have the attention span to Google the plot of Dances With Wolves to make sure that I'm using the best analogy for this article — let alone actually watch the film in its entirety.
So how does an attention-deficient, relatively old man with a moderate brain injury learn to master things? I don't. I just do them shittily. As a child, I always wanted to be a drummer. With the passing of each drum-less year, I loosened my grip on that dream until one day, I had to preface the statement with "as a child". But I'm not the only 10 year old trapped in a 32 year old body that has given up on a dream. Every single one of us, at some point, has rationalized ourselves out of pursuing what we once thought to be the one thing in life we were destined for. The problem with this is that we integrate this dream-elimination process into our routines until they become habitual. It all starts with giving up on becoming an astronaut, then all of sudden, we're giving up on washing our hands after we use the restroom or paying bills on time. It's a slippery slope of regret... and feces covered fingers.
I Did It Because I Care
We often forget how short life is until we are reminded by tragedy, or a silly Dances With Wolves analogy we read in some article. It only takes a few weeks before we forget everything we learned about our fleeting existence. Even worse, some of us never forget; we just won't take the time to incorporate habits that are conducive to day-seizing into our short little lives. For those of us stricken with the latter, I've included this easy to follow, step-by-step guide to carpe diem-ing. I did it because I care
Step one: Think of what you want to do.
Easy enough. I recommend choosing the thing that you want to do that is legal/ethical and doesn't require extensive training in order for it not to kill you. I'm sure underwater welding is a lot of fun, but it requires more than being okay for it not to be deadly, and mastering it to the point of not dying probably takes like 4,500 Dances With Wolves. You also need to consider personal limitations: physical, mental, financial, etc. Some adventures, like collecting cars, may require very few Dances With Wolves, but significant financial investment. You don't want to bankrupt yourself. Start simple and build on your progress.
Step two: Do it.
Once you pick the dream that is least likely to kill or bankrupt you, do it. Remember, you don't have to master it, just shoot for okayest. Utilize the resources we have available in this, the year of the hover board. YouTube, for example, has been proven to cut the Dances With Wolves requirements to around 400 for average tasks such as learning a new language, how to be manly, long division, or how to make a boomerang actually come back to you. Personally, I am unable to retain information from books (traumatic brain injury), but the For Dummies book series offers readers shortcuts to being okay at approximately 1,500 different things. There's also Google, it knows everything — like that over 200,000,000 copies of For Dummies books have been sold over the last 20 years. That's a lot of learnin' and life's too short to let something as petty as not knowing anything at all about something keep you from doing it.
Step three: Don't be a douche about all the stuff you're doing now.
This step is probably the hardest. Admittedly, I haven't quite figured out how to master this yet, but as soon as I do, I'll make a YouTube video for you. I suspect that being self-aware is the basis of this step, but Google is very vague in its responses regarding "how not to be a douche about all the stuff I'm doing". For now, just do your best.
It's Never Too Late
It wasn't until I reached my own breaking point that I realized just how important it is to try new things. Out of necessity, I decided that I was not going to deny my inherent desire for adventure; even if I didn't have enough Dances With Wolves to master them. Ever since I decided to start being okay at stuff, I founded a magazine with my buddy, Calvin; broke a Guinness Book World Record (even though Calvin didn't listen to me about having back up video footage so Guinness will probably never recognize my achievement in their pages); and I play drums in a pretty okay band. The truth is, I'm not great at anything, and it is unlikely that with the ever-increasing pressure of adulthood, I will ever have the opportunity to to be. I'm not even okay at many things that come naturally to almost everyone, like whistling or remembering when my birthday is. But I'd rather know I never mastered something because I'm terrible at it, than to live my life wondering "what if?".
I can't promise that if you follow this guide you'll become the next great interpretive dancer, or that you won't embarrass yourself trying to be; but I can guarantee that you'll find life to be slightly more fulfilling. It's never too late to be okay at something. Don't let your dreams die just because you're a grown up, and nobody cares if you know how throw a boomerang so that it comes back to you. All that matters is that you know you tried.
Readers also enjoyed, or at least they clicked on...
Founded in Lake Charles, LA. Subscribe to Exposure today and receive a digital copy of Exposure Magazine mailed directly to your inbox every month. It's free to subscribe!