Get good at something… By being bad at it

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a brilliant public speaker. So brilliant, in fact, she is in demand for not just speaking events but also to train people in public speaking. Amazing. She shared with me her journey, and it all started with her boss telling her she was so bad at speaking she needed to get training. Really. Bad. So bad, her job was in question. This was motivation for her to get some formal training, and she has not looked back from this point. In fact, part of her motivation was to help people so they never had to go through what she went through.

And it got me thinking about Angry Birds. That’s right. A fantastic iPhone game that involves flinging birds at pigs. You are rewarded with stars, golden eggs and points. I love it. What I have found (over the course of a small amount of game time… ahem…) is that some levels are quite easy and I complete them in one go. Others are more complex. I have found that the ones that I complete easily I find difficult to go back to and achieve three stars. The ones I get stuck on, and I try over and over, I find that once I crack that level, I get three stars.

When I was in the Navy, I struggled with blind pilotage (navigation via radar). I couldn’t get the fact that at all times, I was in the middle of the radar screen and everything else was moving around me. I struggled through my assessments and ended up at sea. I avoided any opportunity to do blind pilotage until I realised it was ridiculous. I had to learn. So I volunteered to be the ‘blind pilot’ and after a few disasters (I don’t want to talk about it), I got better. And before I knew it I was doing it easily and effortlessly. I was sought out to do complex pilotages due to my experience. How did that happen? I don’t know. I guess I just put in the time and went from appalling to excellent. Blind pilotage was my Angry Birds super difficult level. It took a while to crack, but when it did, it was worth it.

These stories are all examples of the ability to go from almost hopeless cause to excellent. And it got me thinking… You can be terrible at something but there is still a potential to be brilliant at it. Just by putting in the time and having the motivation. What does that say about our potential? Does it have any limits? No!

Now, what is it that I find hard that I could make easy? Hmmm…