I’m noticing as I raise two daughters that the current generation seem to throw in the towel so much quicker than I did growing up when it comes to roadblocks and setbacks in life. Whether it’s something like learning a new skill or playing a game- the motivation to keep people going when they don’t see an instant, immediate payoff in their favor appears to wane.
Working off of a previous entry this week, there are certain skills and hobbies that can come naturally to a person due to their environment, their DNA, and just having talent at the subject or topic. But I am willing to debate that many of the things we excel at also came to us at the expense of a learning curve, a length of time where we had to spend in the trenches acquiring the knowledge and working things out to achieve better results through months and years of hard work.
Playing a game like chess requires different skill sets for being able to think and plan for a series of moves and counter-moves based on what your opponent does with the pieces as the move about the board. I could study the game for a while- but once I started playing it, I would have my head handed to me as more experienced players could almost predict what types of moves I as a newcomer would make. I couldn’t expect to be a chess champion in my first match- or my 50th.
As easy as math and science came to me for academics, art and industrial arts were a nightmare. However, I didn’t let the teachers or the work itself get me down- I put in full forth effort and with the help of caring, concerned instructors I received decent grades. I looked forward to the days when we would do drafting for our woodworking projects for instance, because I could apply my strengths in math and measurement to show I knew how to design what I wanted to make in reality. The important thing I emphasize in my mind is to never give up- there’s always something I can learn and apply to my life, even if it’s not something I can master.
As a family we have a series of Wii games. What’s interesting is my daughters gravitate towards the ones that are more continuous without a definitive winner or loser. The games that you have to spend hours and hours to move up levels (aka Guitar Hero), they have played maybe once or twice in six months, but then quickly eject to another disc. Have we moved that quickly in our society to instant gratification, where you spend $30-$50 on a video game and need to master it psychologically within the first or second play?
That’s why we spend a lot of time communicating and role playing scenarios involving self-esteem and applied effort rather than just giving up when the going gets rough. If you really want to excel in a particular sport, career, hobby, etc.- wouldn’t you seek out the experts, spend time around them, get the best coaches you could afford to help you- and put in the thousands of hours to achieve your dreams?
I’m a believer that when you want to retain information, it’s best to focus on short bursts of applied study rather than attempting to cram in one large 2-3 hour session. The mind easily records the first and last thing that you learn- so why not spend time in 10-15 minute bursts over the course of a 2 hour period, so you can get 6 quality sessions in and better your rate of retention and recall abilities?
When the going gets tough, just get going. Keeping yourself in motion betters your chances for success. The last problem you solve may just be the one to get you around the corner and change your life forever. Hit the books, talk to others in your network circle who may be able to help and refuse to listen to the possibility of quitting.