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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!
mood: contemplative
music: Katie Melua—Better Than a Dream


I'm really good at reading with/to small children.

I'm also really good at soothing colicky babies by walking and singing to them, but that's nowhere near as much fun. :-)

Edited at 2012-04-05 03:46 pm (UTC)

Reading out loud well is an excellent super-power!


I've heard that thing about 10,000 hours before, but when you mentioned it this time, I decided to figure out how long it'd take if you did something as your full-time job. If you did something 40 hours a week, it's only about 5 years. I thought it'd be longer. But I've worked with lots of people that have been doing what they've been doing for 5 years, and I wouldn't exactly consider them all experts, so maybe there's some wiggle room there. ;-)

I also like how you said, "I can math!", like it'd be spoken by a Swede -- which you are now! :-)


Thank you for figuring out the 10 000 hour thing Russell (we've never met but in the land of LJ I can just start talking to you without an introduction). My actual job title is "Expert" and most of us in my position are a little uncomfortable introducing ourselves with that title. But lately I've really been realizing that I am, in fact, an expert at my particular job. So I was about to do the math, but math in my head is not my superpower.

So thanks again, for doing the math. It turns out that I have in fact put in the hours to call myself an expert. (At my job, not at math.)


Quite welcome -- it sounds like your are indeed an expert. :-) Math happens to be one of my mini-super powers actually, but I cheated and used a calculator for that one. ;-)

I hadn't thought about figuring out the 40 hours a week thing, but that is really interesting! 5 years on the job makes you an expert if you are diligent about your job. I'm an expert several times over at what I do!

I have an impeccable talent for choosing the check-out line that will take the most amount of time to get through in comparison to all other check-out lines in the store. I will enter a line with one person in the midst of concluding their transaction in front of me and it will be my turn when all the other people in all the other lines and have concluded their respective transactions, made it home, and have partially stored their groceries.

I don't even have to practice for it, so it's pretty amazing that it's so infallible.

A more useful thing I'm good at is obtaining the love of most cats and dogs that I meet within a relatively short acquiantance.

hahaha! Your super power made me laugh. I used to say I had the power to make it rain...all I had to do was wash the car :P

I've mentioned this one to you before, but I'm pretty proud of it. One of my superpowers is the ability to catch things people toss to me.

When I lived in the states I had the required certification to use therapeutic hypnosis and I was good at it (according to the results of the people who hired me to do it) but it's been years since I did it and I don't know for sure anymore if my superhypnosis powers are still working.

And I can parallel park a car in a space barely big enough for my car.

Oh! And I can get you to eat sushi with me just by asking you about it. (And working hard to find a doable date. See you soon!)

We have a date! I have April 20 on the calendar. Is it no lönger valid?

I don't have my calendar here in front of me but I know we did set an April date. So yes, see you on the 20th!

I used to have that catching-things super-power too but it's failed gradually over the years. I plan to talk to you about your therapeutic hypnosis powers! How interesting!


Fabulous Post!!!!


thanks, ma'am!


I think being good at laughing is an exceptional power. Laughing can heal illness's (that's been actually proven). I have the power to make people and animals feel better by touching them. And, according to several other painters at the art studio- I am good at painting trees! At this point in my life I should be really good at many other things too...but they have escaped my mind at the moment! Love, Lizardmom

You have so many super-powers, Mom, you're a veritable superwoman!!


Guess I don't really realize all the powers I have - but after all these years I've accumulated- I must have lots! Love, Lizardmom

I'm really good at being happy where I am. I am also very good at remembering expiration dates for food and library books, and knowing where I'm oriented in terms of cardinal directions. I can go somewhere once, and find my way back there 15 yrs later.

My husband is really, really good at extemporizing lyrics to a song...he can make up a song on the spot, about anything, and it rhymes and everything! The dog gets the most benefit from this.

Hahaha! I share that super power with your husband, it drives my kids crazy, plus I am good at coming up with song lyrics apprpriate to the situation or conversation and then, of course, bursting into song with them. Hee!

From Megsie

What a wonderful post!

I am also good at reading out I have been told. Even my college students beg me to do this. It might be because they would rather have me do the work, but I am good at getting suckered as well. We do that song thing in our house too! It is so fun, and my kids think we are so crazy. I am a good commenter, but a terrible blogger. I am really, really good at coming up with plans, and really, really bad at following those plans.


"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."

Joa just told me about this documentary she saw on Laughing Clubs and Laughing Yoga.
It sounds like you are good at Laughing Yoga, and that fake laughing is as good to your body as real laughing.
I think I need to start laughing more.

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