April 4th, 2012

cocked and loaded


There's a new book out that I just saw going by as I was skimming my RSS feed. It's titled You Are Good at Things. I didn't stop to read anything more about it because it sounds suspiciously like a self-help book and I can't be bothered. I have never been interested in self-help books; mostly they strike me as a bunch of glurge aimed at ridding your gullible pocket of several dollars that you could have saved by using your head. Self-help snob, much?

Anyway, in that split second that it took the title to register in my brain, I thought, "Well, of COURSE I am. We ALL are." And then I started to think about the things I am good at. It's like having mini-super powers!

I'm good at playing with cats. They can't resist me.

I'm good at figuring out what my kids are doing without having to actually SEE them.

I'm good at making Rice Krispie treats.

I'm really good at laughing. I can make you laugh out of nowhere. Even if you're not laughing and nothing funny is going on. I can fake-laugh my way into real laughter in seconds flat and you'll be howling along with me before you know it; with a slightly dazed look on your face, to boot.

I'm good at shuffling cards; I can do the riffle shuffle, even in the air.

You might think some people are really good at just one thing; and those are the ones who make money from it or build a career out of doing it: sports, singing, sales. But everyone is good at lots of things. Maybe they're REALLY REALLY good at one thing, but most people are really really good at lots of things that they never really think about.

In college, my girlfriends always asked me where their keys or their cafeteria cards where because I always seemed to know without looking.

Anders is really good at explaining physics questions and doing complicated math in his head. He's really good at imitating accents, and getting spiders out of the house.

Martin is really good at guessing what people are drawing on DrawSomething and figuring out puzzles and riddles. He's really good at remembering things, and understanding advanced concepts.

Karin is really good at running, at ball control, and at hugging. She's really good at making silly faces and manipulating the small muscles of her eyes.

According to Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. 10,000 hours! That's only 416.66 days, but no one practices the same thing AROUND THE CLOCK for over a year. How much time do you practice something you are passionate about? An hour a week? An hour a day? If you practice 1 hour a day, it will take you 27 years to get good at something. If you practice 1 hour a week, it will take you 192 years to be the best at whatever it is you are practicing. You'd better get cracking!

And yes, I figured that all out on my own (I can math!) and verified my calculations with both Martin and Anders to make sure I was thinking correctly about how to figure it out (though the calculator actually split the numbers for me).

But to be really good at something doesn't take 10,000 hours. It takes a fraction of that. The 10,000 hours is for the CHAMPIONS, the brainiacs and the people who need to get a life because they do NOTHING ELSE. Heh.

According to my kids, I'm really good at being annoyingly motivated when it comes to cleaning. It's a gift, I say. But it's not. I've PRACTICED. Martin just told me I'm good at lying. "What?" I said. "I've never caught you lying," he said, "so you must be good at it." Hee!

I'm really good at typing fast, because I do it all the time. I'm really good at reading fast, for the same reason. But by the time we reach adulthood, all of us are really good at lots of things. Things we take for granted, things we never think about, things that other people might recommend us for because our ability is beyond the norm...just enough to stand out. How many times have you heard someone say something like, "Go ask Jim, he's really good at (fill in the blank), he'll know." We all have our specialties, our extraordinary competences, our above-average abilities.

What are your mini-super powers?

Burbly Wurbly Belated Birthday Wishes to travelertrish!